World Mourns the Death of Elie Wiesel

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Noble Laureate Elie Wiesel in 2006. Wiesel died Saturday at age 87. Reuters

The world mourns the passing of Elie Wiesel, the activist and author who became a voice for Holocaust victims with his writing and public works. Wiesel died Saturday at age 87.

Many took to social media to express their grief, celebrate Wiesel's life and share his words.

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In awarding the Peace Prize in 1986, the Nobel Committee praised Wiesel as a "messenger to mankind" and "one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterize the world."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Wiesel as a ray of light, and said his extraordinary personality and fascinating books demonstrated the triumph of the human spirit over cruelty and evil.

"Through his unforgettable books, moving words and personal example, Elie personified the triumph of the human spirit over the most unimaginable evil. Out of the darkness of the Holocaust, Elie became a powerful force for light, truth and dignity," he said.

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Wiesel was 27 years old in 1955 when his classic book Night was published in Yiddish, and Wiesel would later rewrite it for a world audience.

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed ...," Wiesel wrote. "Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live."

Asked by an interviewer in 2000 why he did not go insane, Wiesel said, "To this day that is a mystery to me."

By 2008, the New York Times said "Night" had sold an estimated 10 million copies, including 3 million after talk-show hostess Oprah Winfrey made it a spotlight selection for her book club in 2006.

Wiesel wrote more than 50 books—novels, non-fiction, memoirs and many with a Holocaust theme—and held a long-running professorship at Boston University. In one of his later books, "Open Heart," he used his 2011 quintuple-bypass surgery as impetus for reflection on his life.

"I have already been the beneficiary of so many miracles, which I know I owe to my ancestors," he wrote. "All I have achieved has been and continues to be dedicated to their murdered dreams—and hopes."

Reuters contributed to this report.

World Mourns the Death of Elie Wiesel | World