Feb 7, 2024 - News

Holocaust writer Elie Wiesel's legacy comes home to St. Pete

Elie Wiesel sits at a paper-strewn desk with bookshelves in the background

Elie Wiesel circa 1980 in New York City. Photo: Santi Visalli/Getty Images

Elie Wiesel cut the ribbon at the Florida Holocaust Museum's opening in St. Petersburg in 1998. A quarter-of-a-century later, the legacy of the late Nobel Prize-winning author is becoming a permanent part of the museum.

What's happening: The Florida Holocaust Museum has been chosen to house Wiesel's personal collection, including his Nobel Prize, unfinished manuscripts, correspondence with world leaders, and the contents of his office and library, the museum announced this week.

Why it matters: There are several other notable Holocaust museums around the world, but Wiesel's connection to St. Petersburg in life means his legacy will live on here permanently.

Flashback: After writing his pivotal memoir "Night," Wiesel taught at Eckerd College for 24 years.

  • "He and my mother fell in love with St. Petersburg and the surrounding community," Elisha Wiesel, son of Elie and Marion Wiesel and chairman of the Elie Wiesel Foundation, said in a press release.

Details: Documents from Wiesel's library will be housed at the University of South Florida's St. Petersburg campus, anchoring the school's new Elie Wiesel Center for Humanitarian Ethics.

  • The collection will live permanently in St. Pete, but the museum also plans to convert it into an international traveling exhibition for research and public accessibility.

What they're saying: "Elie Wiesel was a master at explaining to all of us why the lessons of the Holocaust matter," said Michael Igel, board chairman of the Florida Holocaust Museum.

  • "Now, through innovative programming and exhibitions, the museum will use his voice to ensure that his legacy will always remain relevant."

Meanwhile: The museum is in the process of renovation and expansion. It recently acquired a boat used in the seaborne rescue that saved most of Denmark's Jewish population, as well as a cattle car used to transport Jews to concentration camps.

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