"Messenger to Mankind", Elie Wiesel
By Moshe Zisblatt Wiesenthal, October 10, 2009
A species of bacteria that causes particularly severe and dangerous boils became known as Staphylococci Eliewieselus Furunculosis, in honor of jewish holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel. This comes just days after an asteroid between the planets Mars and Jupiter became known as Miep Gies, in honor of the Dutch woman who preserved the diary of Anne Frank. (story)
Dr. Zundel Rassinier, an infectious-disease specialist, discovered the species in the 1960s, but held off naming it until just recently. He has decided to name it Staphylococci Eliewieselus Furunculosis, saying he wanted to draw attention to the steadfast courage of the now 81-year-old Wiesel who is the author of 52 books, a professor of philosophy and recipient of more than 100 honorary degrees. The bacteria causes a recurring boil that poses increased risk of the infection gaining access to the bloodstream, leading to serious illness.
Elie Wiesel was born in Sighet, the Transylvania region of Romania, on September 30, 1928. In May 1944, Hungarian authorities allowed the German army to deport local Jews. Wiesel spent time in two Nazi "death" camps, Auschwitz and Buchenwald before being liberated by the American Army in April 1945. In the 1950s, Wiesel published his first book, a novel, "And the World Remained Silent," which was shortened and printed as "Night."
" 'Night' is a memoir; totally every word is true," Wiesel said. "Everything (in it) happened, everything was destroyed. Therefore, we can't single out one episode or one event" as fact or fiction."
One of the most heart-rending sections of the book is where Wiesel describes how the Nazis exterminated Jewish babies by throwing them alive into flaming ditches. He writes:"Not far from us, flames were leaping from a ditch, gigantic flames. They were burning something. A lorry drew up at the pit and delivered its load -- little children. Babies! Yes, I saw it -- saw it with my own eyes ... Those children in the flames. (Is it surprising that I could not sleep after that? Sleep has fled from my eyes.)"
Wiesel also recounts amazing stories from other Holocaust witnesses in "Night", including from Babi Yar, a place in Ukraine where the Germans executed Soviet citizens, among them Jews:"Later, I learn from a witness that, for month after month, the ground never stopped trembling; and that, from time to time, geysers of blood spurted from it."
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Wiesel the Chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust, and he became Founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council in 1980, which eventually lead to the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum which opened in 1993.
Wiesel was been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Medal of Liberty Award, the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor, the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress, and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. Wiesel now lives in New York and teaches in Boston. He speaks a number of languages and writes mainly in French.