Feb 12, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Florida museum to recreate office of late-Holocaust writer Elie Wiesel

Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel arrives for a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill in March 2015 in Washington.

Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel arrives for a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill in March 2015 in Washington. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Elie Wiesel Foundation has agreed to house the personal papers of the late Nobel Peace Laureate and Holocaust survivor at the Florida Holocaust Museum — and the museum plans to recreate his working space for visitors.

The big picture: The announcement — and a massive project to digitize Wiesel's unfinished manuscripts and correspondence with world leaders — comes as museums race to save testimonies from the last generation of Holocaust survivors.

  • It also comes amid rising antisemitism in the U.S. and the spreading of misinformation online about the Holocaust.

What they're saying: "My father was a proud Jew who stood on the global platform and fought antisemitism by living Jewish values very publicly," Elisha Wiesel, the writer's son, tells Axios.

  • "To have these archives show up now at this time ... I think it's a very important moment."

Details: The papers will be transferred to the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg after Gratz College finishes digitizing them, Elisha Wiesel said.

  • By the end of the year, the museum hopes to have an early exhibit of the recreated office of Wiesel, museum chairman Michael Igel tells Axios.
  • "It's an absolute game changer. It's our mission to honor the victims of the Holocaust to prevent future genocide, and in my mind, there is no human stronger than Prof. Wiesel to do that."
  • The collection will also be made available to scholars in partnership with the University of South Florida and will anchor the college's new Elie Wiesel Center for Humanitarian Ethics.

Background: Wiesel's 1960 memoir "Night" recounted Holocaust experiences with his father in Nazi concentration camps and helped set the tone for future Holocaust testimonies.

  • He wrote other works of fiction and drama about the Holocaust, including the play "The Trial of God," in which Ukrainian Jews put God on trial for atrocities as a mysterious figure shows up to defend God.

Elie Wiesel cut the ribbon at the Florida Holocaust Museum's opening in 1998.

  • The writer was a visiting professor at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg for 24 years starting in 1993, and considered the Tampa Bay area a second home.
A rendering of the recreated offices of Elie Wiesel.
A rendering of the recreated office of Elie Wiesel. Photo: Courtesy of the Florida Holocaust Museum.

The intrigue: The Florida Holocaust Museum plans to take a portion of Elie Wiesel's archives on a traveling international exhibit, said Igel, whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors.

  • "This is what perseverance and victory look like."
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