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Elie Wiesel Quotations, Poems and Epigrams

This page of Elie Wiesel quotations, poems and epigrams was compiled by Michael R. Burch, an editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry. Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, is a survivor of the Nazi death camps. I have also featured excerpts from his essays, which I have recast as short poems. You may also be interested in a related page: What I learned from Elie Wiesel and other Jewish Holocaust Survivors, about achieving World Peace.

Elie Wiesel on Beauty

There is divine beauty in learning,
just as there is human beauty in tolerance.

Elie Wiesel on Freedom

Even if only one free individual is left,
he is proof that the dictator is powerless against freedom.
But a free man is never alone; the dictator is alone.
The free man is the one who, even in prison,
gives to the other prisoners
their thirst for, their memory of, freedom.

Elie Wiesel on the Freeing of the Nazi Death Camps

That day I encountered the first American soldiers
in the Buchenwald concentration camp.
I remember them well.
Bewildered, disbelieving, they walked around the place,
hell on earth,
where our destiny had been played out.
They looked at us,
just liberated,
and did not know what to do or say.
Survivors snatched from the dark throes of death,
we were empty of all hope—
too weak, too emaciated to hug them or even speak to them.
Like lost children, the American soldiers wept and wept with rage and sadness.
And we received their tears as if they were heartrending offerings
from a wounded and generous humanity.

Elie Wiesel on Indifference

Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.

Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.

Our obligation is to give meaning to life and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life.

Elie Wiesel on Neutrality

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Elie Wiesel on Responsibility

A destruction, an annihilation that only man can provoke, only man can prevent.

Not to transmit an experience is to betray it.

I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead. and anyone who does not remember betrays them again.

Elie Wiesel on Racism and Equality

No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.

Elie Wiesel on Injustice

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.

Elie Wiesel on Love and Friendship

Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.

Elie Wiesel on Overcoming Despair by Helping Others

We have to go into the despair and go beyond it, by working and doing for somebody else, by using it for something else.

Elie Wiesel on Hope and Peace

Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God. It is a gift only we can give one another.

Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.

Elie Wiesel on Memory, Remembrance, Writing and Storytelling

I write to understand as much as to be understood.

Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds.

Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.

Some stories are true that never happened.

That is my major preoccupation, memory, the kingdom of memory. I want to protect and enrich that kingdom, glorify that kingdom and serve it.

I marvel at the resilience of the Jewish people. Their best characteristic is their desire to remember. No other people has such an obsession with memory.

Elie Wiesel on Books

I do not recall a Jewish home without a book on the table.

There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don't see them.

Elie Wiesel on God and Mankind

Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other.

I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I've been closer to him for that reason.

Elie Wiesel on History and the Jewish People  

In Jewish history there are no coincidences.

Elie Wiesel on Mortality and Death

Man, as long as he lives, is immortal. One minute before his death he shall be immortal. But one minute later, God wins.

Elie Wiesel on Darkness

Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.

Elie Wiesel on Protecting Life

Once you bring life into the world, you must protect it. We must protect it by changing the world.

Elie Wiesel on the Soul, Spirit and Mysticism

There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.

What does mysticism really mean? It means the way to attain knowledge. It's close to philosophy, except in philosophy you go horizontally while in mysticism you go vertically.

What I learned from Elie Wiesel and other Jewish Holocaust Survivors, about achieving World Peace

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