The son of Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel has responded to the antisemitic desecration of his father’s childhood home in northwestern Romania over the weekend.
“Antisemitism exists in Europe. This is not an isolated incident,” Elisha Wiesel told The Algemeiner on Sunday. “What is happening to my father’s home is a small indication of what is happening on a continental level. Both Holocaust memory and Jews are under attack.”
The discovery of the graffiti – scrawled in bright pink paint – has prompted an investigation by local authorities, who also condemned the incident. Among the messages daubed on the small structure in the town of Sighetu Marmatiei was, “Nazi Jew lying in hell with Hitler” and “Public toilet, antisemite pedophile.”
In addition to condemning the attack, Elisha – who serves as chief information officer at Goldman Sachs – offered some practical steps and called on the Romanian government to add his father’s most famous work, his memoir “Night” – about his experiences in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz – as mandatory reading in the country’s national curriculum.
He also called for “making sure that the appropriate funding and governance exist so that my father’s home can tell the story it needs to tell: the story of a Jewish family and community that once was, and the story of a man who wanted their voices – and the lessons of their destruction– so desperately to be heard.”
The younger Wiesel also offered an optimistic take on the nasty incident, saying “there is room for hope too.”
“Talk to the young Romanian woman who works day after day curating inside the house, even during the winter when there is no heat supplied to the building,” he said. “Her name is Alina Marincean – a non-Jew for whom this has been a labor of love. She is deeply committed to my father’s memory and to the Jews of Sighet who were eradicated. Talk to her and be inspired. She knows the timetable of when the ghetto was first created, of when the Sighet transports went to Auschwitz the way my cousins and I do.”
“What she is doing deserves far more attention than the scrawled hatred of some drunk thugs. What can be done to help her?” he concluded.
In total, 380,000–400,000 Jews were murdered in Romanian-controlled areas during the Holocaust under Marshal Ion Antonescu, the country’s fascist dictator who was allied with Nazi Germany.
Elie Wiesel and his family were deported in 1944 to Auschwitz. While he and two of his sisters survived, his father, mother and younger sister were murdered there. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.