Dr. Elie Wiesel was motivated by his experience as a survivor of the Holocaust to become one of the world’s foremost advocates for social justice and human rights. He was also a friend to members of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre community and we mourn his passing. In his writing and his activism, he gave voice to the experiences of survivors but, as he acknowledged, also saw it as his responsibility to represent those who did not survive.
Wiesel and Robbie Waisman, a past president of the VHEC, were among the 426 “Boys of Buchenwald” liberated on April 11, 1945, and began their post-Shoah lives together at a facility in France.
“We had a common bond,” Waisman said. “On the 11th of April, I usually go into my office and call some of the boys. Elie was part of it. There’s so much that I shared with him.
“The world lost an irreplaceable human being.”
Dr. Robert Krell – recipient of the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Remembrance Medal for his work in Holocaust education, psychiatric contributions to the care of Holocaust survivors, and his role as founding president of the VHEC, which Wiesel visited – became friends with Wiesel over several decades.
“He was the kindest, gentlest, wisest person in my life,” said Krell. “And he always made time for me, although he was also the busiest and most prevailed upon person imaginable.”
Wiesel once said: “There is much to be done, there is much that can be done.” And the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre commits to continuing the work that defined his life’s mission.
The VHEC will honor the life and work of Elie Wiesel during our annual High Holidays Cemetery Service. The commemoration will take place at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9, at Schara Tzedeck Cemetery, 2345 Marine Dr., New Westminster. Everyone is welcome.
The service, held annually on the Sunday between the High Holidays, affords participants the opportunity to mourn those who perished during the Holocaust at this symbolic gravesite.