Author, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel drew more than 3,200 people to the Saint Xavier University Shannon Center Thursday night to hear him speak of his life and work and how they were affected by his experiences as a prisoner of World War II Nazi concentration camps.
Wiesel also received a Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa, from Saint Xavier University in recognition of a lifetime dedicated to peace and human dignity.
“The third installment of our highly successful SXU Voices and Visions series was a truly special evening,” said Robert Tenczar, vice president for University Relations. “It has been an honor to bring such an important voice for humanity to the city of Chicago.”
The City of Chicago recognized Wiesel’s visit by declaring Sept. 25, 2008 Elie Wiesel Day at its Sept. 10th City Council meeting.
Prior to his lecture, Wiesel conducted a classroom discussion with a small group of select Saint Xavier students. SXU English major Ellen Morgan, of Mokena, recently read Wiesel’s book, “Night,” and called the experience of meeting the author in person “indescribable.”
“‘Night’ was so descriptive of what he went through, and to see him come into a room and make people comfortable enough to talk with him about it is an amazing quality to have,” Morgan said.
Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now part of Romania. He was 15 when he and his family were deported by the Nazis to the concentration camp, Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished, but his two older sisters survived. Wiesel and his father were transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.
Later as a journalist, he was persuaded to write about his experiences. The result was his internationally acclaimed memoir, “La Nuit” or “Night,” which has since been translated into more than 30 languages.