Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Auschwitz survivor, dies at 87

Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, author and activist Elie Wiesel died Saturday at the age of 87.

Haaretz was the first outlet to report the news, and the Auschwitz Museum confirmed the news on its Twitter account.

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Wiesel worked as a journalist and later as an academic. He remained involved in political and social justice issues over his entire life, and received many awards and honors.

For more than a half-century, he voiced his passionate beliefs to world leaders, celebrities and general audiences in the name of victims of violence and oppression. He wrote more than 40 books, but his most influential by far was "Night." His best-selling memoir was based on his experience in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

"Night" was Wiesel's first book. Its journey to publication crossed both time and language. It began in the mid-1950s as an 800-page story in Yiddish, was trimmed to under 300 pages for an edition released in Argentina, cut again to under 200 pages for the French market and finally published in the United States, in 1960, at just over 100 pages.

Wiesel became a U.S. citizen in 1963. Six years later, he married Marion Rose, who was also a Holocaust survivor. They had a son, Shlomo. Based in New York, Wiesel commuted to Boston University for almost three decades, teaching philosophy, literature and Judaic studies.

Among his most memorable spoken words came in 1985, when he received a Congressional Gold Medal from President Ronald Reagan. He asked the president not to make a planned trip to a cemetery in Germany that contained graves of Adolf Hitler's personal guards.

The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, which he established in 1988, explored the problems of hatred and ethnic conflicts around the world. But like a number of other well-known charities in the Jewish community, the foundation fell victim to Bernard Madoff, the financier who was arrested in late 2008 and accused of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

Wiesel said he ended up losing $15.2 million in foundation funds, plus his and his wife's own personal investments. At a panel discussion in February 2009, Wiesel admitted he bought into the Madoff mystique, "a myth that he created around him that everything was so special, so unique, that it had to be secret." He called Madoff "a crook, a thief, a scoundrel."

Despite Wiesel's mission to remind the world of past mistakes, the greatest disappointment of his life was that "nothing changed," he said in an interview.

"Human nature remained what it was. Society remained what it was. Too much indifference in the world, to the Other, his pain, and anguish, and hope."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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