The nation and the world have suffered an enormous, irreplaceable loss with the passing of Elie Wiesel. He embodied the experience and the contemporary lessons of the Holocaust like no other Survivor. His books, lectures, and public statements about the Shoah placed the Holocaust on the consciousness of people the world over. His thought-provoking questions about the impact of the Holocaust on our morality and religious beliefs challenged us all. But Elie Wiesel used his horrific personal experience and those of other victims and survivors of man’s worst inhumanity to our fellow men to speak out as a voice of conscience against genocides and intolerance around the world. His Nobel Peace Prize attests to the impact he had in raising our awareness to injustice everywhere.
Elie’s passing is also a loss for The Defiant Requiem Foundation. He served as Honorary Host for our sold-out 2010 Kennedy Center performance of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, and his admonition to use every means to bring awareness of the Holocaust and its lessons to future generations continues to inspire our work.
For me, his passing is a very personal loss. In April 1978, President Jimmy Carter, for whom I served as White House Domestic Policy Adviser, accepted my recommendation to create a Presidential Commission on the Holocaust, chaired by Elie Wiesel. I worked closely with Elie and the Commission, which, under Elie’s inspirational leadership, recommended the formation of what is now the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. President Carter accepted the recommendation and every one of the some 40 million visitors to the stirring Museum is a testament to Elie’s legacy. Elie also spoke at the Eizenstat Family Memorial Lecture series I established at Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Atlanta to honor my late parents (and now my late wife Fran). Additionally, he wrote the foreword to my book on my work in the Clinton Administration to obtain belated justice for Holocaust victims, Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II.
The Defiant Requiem Foundation Board of Directors and the entire Defiant Requiem family mourns the loss of a great humanitarian and inspiration, Elie Wiesel.