JERUSALEM, Jul 3 – Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor, writer and Nobel peace laureate who worked to keep alive the memory of Jews slaughtered during World War II, has died aged 87.
Wiesel, a Romanian-born US citizen, was perhaps best known for his memoir “Night” detailing his experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
He won the Nobel peace prize in 1986, when he was described as having “made it his life’s work to bear witness to the genocide committed by the Nazis during World War II”.
Once known as “the world’s leading spokesman on the Holocaust,” Wiesel died at his home in Manhattan on Saturday, the New York Times reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reportedly tried to convince Wiesel to run for president in 2014, called him “an exemplar of humanity”.
“Elie, a master of words, expressed in his unique personality and fascinating books the victory of human spirit over cruelty and evil,” the premier said in a statement.
“In the darkness of the Holocaust, in which six million of our brothers and sisters perished, Elie Wiesel was a beacon of light and an exemplar of humanity that believes in man’s good.”
Born Eliezer Wiesel on September 30, 1928, the Nobel prize winner grew up in a small town in Romania.
His parents raised him and his three sisters in a Jewish community, until they were all detained during the Holocaust when he was a teenager.
His mother and younger sister were killed in the gas chamber at Auschwitz, according to his biography. His father died of dysentery and starvation at Buchenwald, where Wiesel was freed by US soldiers at the age of 17.
He was reunited with his two older sisters in France, and eventually studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.
French President Francois Hollande said his country “salutes the memory of a great humanist” and a “tireless advocate of peace”.