Elie Wiesel.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Veni, used under CC BY

Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel has died at age 87, Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial said Saturday.

Wiesel's memoir Night told the story of his time in Nazi concentration camps during World War II and is considered among the most important works documenting the horrors of the Holocaust.

Wiesel was born in Romania in 1928 and was 15 when his family was deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz, where his mother and one of his sisters died.

He was later transferred with his father to the Buchenwald camp, where his father died just days before the liberation of the camp.

While living in Paris in 1956, he wrote an 800-page memoir of his experiences during the Holocaust that was later shortened and translated into French as Nuit. The English version, Night, was published in 1960 and it has since been translated into more than 30 languages.

He described the sense of hopelessness he experienced and the horrors of watching children condemned to die and men who were living corpses.

"Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never," he wrote of his first hours in Auschwitz.

He devoted his life to Holocaust remembrance to ensure such horrors could never again be visit upon humanity, speaking out as an advocate on behalf of other victims of inhumanity and injustice, including apartheid in South Africa and genocide in Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation," he said in accepting his Nobel Prize. "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

Wiesel, the author of more than 50 books, won the peace prize in 1986 for his message of "peace, atonement and human dignity."

"Elie Wiesel has emerged as one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterise the world," the Nobel Committee said.

An outpouring of condolences was pouring in from around the world.

Wiesel was "the conscience of the world" and a "living memorial" who compelled humanity to act in the face of suffering, US President Barack Obama said.

"He raised his voice, not just against anti-Semitism, but against hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms," Obama said. "He implored each of us, as nations and as human beings, to do the same, to see ourselves in each other and to make real that pledge of 'never again.'"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the state of Israel and the Jewish people were mourning the death of Wiesel, whom he said had "personified the triumph of the human spirit over the most unimaginable evil."

"Out of the darkness of the Holocaust, Elie became a powerful force for light, truth and dignity," Netanyahu said.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin praised Wiesel as a "hero of the Jewish people and a giant of all humanity."

He "embodied the determination of the human spirit to overcome the darkest of evils, and survive against all the odds," Rivlin said.

The World Jewish Congress called him a "beacon of light" and said the Jewish community "owes him an enormous debt of gratitude."

"Elie Wiesel was more than a revered writer. He was also a teacher for many of us. He taught us about the horrors of Auschwitz. He taught us about Judaism, about Israel, and about not being silent in the face of injustice," the group's president, Roland Lauder, said.

The International Auschwitz Committee praised Wiesel as "a teacher of mankind" who went to great effort to share the horrors of the Nazi death camp.

Wiesel moved to New York in the 1950s and became a US citizen in 1963.

He has worked for Holocaust remembrance and on behalf of other victims of genocide, war and oppression through his Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.

He had taught at Boston University since 1976 and had also taught the City University of New York and Yale University.

Related stories

Another four Croatians named as Righteous Among the Nations

Croatian PM visits Yad Vashem

Holocaust survivors gather at Auschwitz to commemorate victims

Latest news

Red Cross: Bodies of 74 migrants wash ashore in Libya

The bodies of 74 migrants washed ashore in Libya, in the north-western city of Zawiya, a spokesman of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said Tuesday.

Ancelotti makes charity donation after middle finger gesture

Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti is to donate 5,000 euros (5,200 dollars) to a charity foundation run by the German football federation DFB following his middle finger gesture towards Hertha Berlin fans.

Azerbaijan's long-time leader Aliyev appoints wife as vice president

The long-time president of the oil-rich, Caspian Sea nation of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, appointed his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, as vice president on Tuesday.

HSBC reports 62-per-cent fall in annual profit, blames one-off costs

Banking giant HSBC on Tuesday reported a 62-per-cent fall in its annual profit last year, blaming losses incurred from the sale of HSBC Bank Brazil and other one-off costs.

Le Pen quits meeting with Lebanon's Sunni cleric over headscarf row

France's far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen walked away from a meeting on Tuesday with Lebanon's senior Muslim Sunni cleric after she refused to wear a headscarf.

Podravka revenues up 15 pct, profit up 54 pct

The Podravka Group that operates in two main business segments: food and pharmaceuticals, generated a net profit in 2016 of HRK 182.4 million, which is 54.7% more than in 2015 without taking into account the one-off effect of consolidating the Zito company or deferred tax returns of Belupo in 2015, according to the company'y unaudited financial statements released on Tuesday.

Chinese prefecture requires all cars to install tracking devices

A prefecture in China’s troubled north-western province of Xinjiang is requiring all vehicles to install satellite tracking devices, a move that comes just weeks after authorities warned against cars being used for terrorist attacks.

Rohingya activist urges companies to stop investing in Myanmar

Foreign companies need to stop investing in Myanmar in order to stop the country's discrimination against its Muslim minority Rohingya, a prominent Myanmar activist said Tuesday.

ASEAN concerned about militarization in disputed South China Sea

South-East Asian countries are concerned about growing militarization in the disputed South China Sea and stressed the need for dialogue to ease tensions, the Philippines’ foreign minister said Tuesday.

HRK 4.5 mln allocated for Croat minority abroad

A total of HRK 4.5 million kuna, or HRK 1.5 million more, has been allocated from the state budget for the Croatian minority living in 12 European countries and the decision on the allocation of the funds was made by state secretary in the Central Office for Croats Abroad, Zvonko Milas.

Iraqi forces shell Mosul airport in advance of storming it

Iraqi forces began shelling Mosul's airport on Tuesday as they make advances in anticipation of seizing it from the extremist Islamic State militia, police chief Raed Jawdat said.

France to slaughter 600,000 ducks to eradicate bird flu

French authorities are planning to slaughter some 600,000 ducks in order to eradicate bird flu from a south-western region, Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll confirmed on Tuesday.

Mainly immigrant suburb of Stockholm hit by riots

Dozens of youth clashed with police in a mainly immigrant suburb of the Swedish capital Stockholm on Monday night after an arrest in an underground train station.

Cause of death still unclear in North Korean killing in Malaysia

The cause of death is "still pending" following an autopsy of the estranged half-brother of North Korea's ruler, following his mysterious death at Kuala Lumpur's airport last week, Malaysia's director general of health said Tuesday.

Rebels seek to halt advances by extremist militia in southern Syria

Moderate Syrian rebels launched a counter-attack on Islamic State-linked militants after a series of Islamic State advances in south-western Syria, near the Golan Heights, a monitoring group said Tuesday.