Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Elisha Wiesel: My father was a witness, and now I will be a witness

A moving statement by Elisha Wiesel, the son of Elie Wiesel, when he went on the March of the Living this year: My father was a witness, and now I will be a witness.
My father never forgot. The things he saw stayed with him all the days of his life. He lived to speak of them to me, and to my children. My father was a witness.

He was a witness to the worst atrocity that man has ever unleashed on fellow man. And he was a witness who believed that to acknowledge the suffering of another—and to have them feel less alone—was an imperative for every human being. He spoke for victims around the world: Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur. The thought that genocides could occur in the wake of the Holocaust haunted him.

But my father was a witness to more than the Holocaust, he was a witness to the Jewish lives in Eastern Europe which it had claimed. He was a witness to his parents’ beliefs and their traditions and their values, some of which continued even in this place, even in that time: the father and son saving crusts of bread for each other, the Rabbis condemning God at trial and then praying the evening prayer....

I will be a witness. I am here today with my first cousins Steve and Sydney and we are witnesses that we are standing in the place where my father and mother’s families were sent to die simply because they were Jews, packed like animals for the slaughter onto the train while their neighbors watched.

And I am a witness to my children who brought so much joy to their grandfather, to my son in whom my father’s gentle soul lives on, and to my daughter, exactly nine years old today, whose soul throws off the brilliance of a thousand suns. Her name Tziporah bears witness to a little girl of the same age, my father’s sister, who was sent to the flames here 73 years ago.

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