Elie Wiesel Net Worth

How much was Elie Wiesel worth?

Net Worth:$5 Million
Profession:Professional Writer
Date of Birth:September 30, 1928
Country:Romanian-born American
1.68 m

About Elie Wiesel

The American author, scholar, and political activist Elie Wiesel, born Eliezer Wiesel Hebrew (September 30, 1928 – July 2, 2016), had an estimated net worth of $5 million. Nazi-era survivor Author of Night and numerous other books, Elie Wiesel is well known for his work on human rights issues and as a voice for Holocaust survivors. His upbringing as an Orthodox Jew was severely disrupted when the Nazis transported his family in 1928 from Sighet, Romania, to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where his mother and younger sister died instantaneously. After escaping the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel wrote Night, a memoir of his experiences.

Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel had an estimated net worth of $5 million dollars at the time of his death, in 2016. A prolific author he penned 57 books in French and English, including Night, a book based on his experiences as a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz.

Losing his wealth

Elie Wiesel had significant personal investments in Bernard L. Madoff Financial Securities LLC, the Bernie Madoff-run investment company, as well as donations through his foundation, Foundation for Humanity. Elie Wiesel and his charity suffered significant losses when the company turned out to be the biggest private Ponzi fraud in history. Financial losses to Foundation for Humanity were at least $15 million dollars.

Growing Up

Elie Wiesel was born on September 30, 1928, and grew up in a modest Romanian town where his family has origins going back many generations. His mother Sarah was the daughter of a respected Hasidic rabbi, but his father Shlomo was known for his more liberal tendencies within Orthodox Judaism. His family owned and operated a grocery store. His father’s well-educated worldviews and the family’s retail establishment made them well-known in Sighet. Wiesel had three sisters: Tsiporah, who was the youngest, and two older ones named Beatrice and Hilda.

The family could support itself from the food store despite not having much money. Wiesel’s modest upbringing was typical of Jews in this region of Eastern Europe, who prioritized their family and faith over financial things.

At the town’s yeshiva, Wiesel received both a secular and religious education (religious school). Wiesel’s maternal grandfather, Rabbi Dodye Feig, inspired him to pursue more Talmud studies, while his father urged him to study Hebrew. Wiesel stood out from many of his peers as a young man because he was seen as serious and committed to his studies.

The family was multilingual, speaking Hungarian, German, and Romanian in addition to Yiddish at home. This was especially typical for families in Eastern Europe at the time because their nation’s boundaries had changed numerous times during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, making it necessary to learn new languages. Later, Wiesel said that he was able to survive the Holocaust thanks to this information.

Ghetto of Sighet

Beginning in March 1944, Sighet was under German occupation. Due to Romania’s inclusion in the Axis from 1940 on, this came somewhat late. Sadly for the Romanian government, this position was insufficient to stop the country from being divided and then taken over by German soldiers.

The Jews of Sighet were expelled into one of the town’s two ghettos in the spring of 1944. Jews were also brought in from the nearby rural area, and the ghetto’s population quickly grew to 13,000 individuals.

By this stage of the Final Solution, ghettos served only as a temporary holding area for Jews until they were transported to a concentration camp. On May 16, 1944, deportations from the sizable ghetto started.

The Wiesel family did not immediately have to relocate when the ghetto was established in April 1944 because their residence was situated inside the confines of the sizable ghetto. The family was compelled to temporarily relocate into the smaller ghetto on May 16, 1944, when the deportations started, bringing with them only a few belongings and a tiny amount of food. This move was only temporary.

A few days later, the family received instructions to proceed to the synagogue in the confines of the tiny ghetto, where they were detained for the night before being expelled from the ghetto on May 20.


The Wiesels were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau by train along with thousands of other people who had been expelled from the Sighet Ghetto. Wiesel and his father were separated from his mother and Tsiporah when they arrived at the Birkenau unloading ramp. He never again ran into them.

By making up his age, Wiesel was able to remain with his father. He was 15 years old when he arrived in Auschwitz, but a more seasoned prisoner gave him the tip to claim he was 18 years old. Additionally, his father misrepresented his age, saying he was 40 rather than 50. The trick succeeded, and instead of being sent straight to the gas chambers, both men were chosen for a labor assignment.

Before being moved to Auschwitz I, also known as the “Main Camp,” Wiesel and his father spent a brief amount of time in quarantine at Birkenau on the outskirts of the Gypsy camp. When he was brought into the main camp, he had his prisoner number, A-7713, tattooed on his body.

Wiesel and his father were relocated to Auschwitz III-Monowitz in August 1944, where they stayed until January 1945. The two were made to labor at a warehouse connected to the Buna Werke industrial complex owned by I.G. Farben. Even though conditions were harsh and food supplies were meager, Elie Wiesel and his father made it through the ordeal alive.


Wiesel was recovering from foot surgery in the prisoner hospital in the Monowitz complex in January 1945 as the Red Army was pressing in. Wiesel determined that his best course of action was to embark on the death march with his father and other evacuated inmates rather than remaining in the hospital while prisoners within the camp received instructions to leave. Russian forces liberated Auschwitz just days after he left.

Wiesel and his father were put on a death march and taken from Gleiwitz to Buchenwald before being thrown on a train and taken to Weimar, Germany. The march was mentally and physically taxing, and Wiesel frequently believed he and his father would die.

After several days of traveling, they eventually reached Gleiwitz. After being imprisoned for two days in a barn with no food, they were put on a ten-day train journey to Buchenwald.

Only 12 of the approximately 100 men who were in the train car survived, according to Wiesel’s account in Night. He and his father were among the survivors, but the dysentery had struck his father. Wiesel’s father was unable to recover because he was already quite weak. On January 29, 1945, the evening following their arrival at Buchenwald, he passed away.

Getting Out of Buchenwald

When the Allies liberated Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, Wiesel was only 16 years old. Wiesel was so terribly underweight and unable to identify himself when he was finally freed. After recovering for some time in an Allied hospital, he moved to France and sought safety in a French orphanage.

Although Wiesel’s two older sisters had also survived the Holocaust, he was unaware of this good fortune at the time of his freedom. Hilda and Bea, his older sisters, were imprisoned in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau, and Kaufering before being freed in Wolfratshausen by American forces.

French culture

Through the Jewish Children’s Rescue Society, Wiesel remained in foster care for a period of two years.

He wanted to move to Palestine, but the British mandate’s pre-independence immigration policies prevented him from getting the necessary documents.

Wiesel learned in 1947 that his sister Hilda was also residing in France. A image of Elie Wiesel was included in an article about refugees that Hilda had stumbled across in a local French newspaper. In the immediate post-war period, both were also quickly reunited with their sister Bea, who was residing in Belgium.

Wiesel made the decision to live alone because Hilda was engaged to be married and Bea was residing and working in a camp for displaced people. In 1948, he started attending the Sorbonne to study. To make ends meet, he started studying the humanities and giving Hebrew lessons.

Early proponent of the state of Israel, Wiesel served as a translator for the Irgun in Paris before taking a position as L’arche’s official French correspondent in Israel a year later. Wiesel’s support for Israel and proficiency in Hebrew made him the ideal choice for the position, since the paper was keen to establish a presence in the just founded nation.

Even though this job was only temporary, Wiesel was able to make the most of it by returning to Paris and taking a new position as the French correspondent for the Israeli news organization Yedioth Ahronoth.

After working as a reporter for this newspaper for almost ten years, Wiesel eventually advanced to the position of international correspondent before reducing his reporting duties to concentrate on his own writing. His work as a novelist would ultimately lead him to Washington, D.C. and a route to citizenship in the United States.


Night, Wiesel’s seminal book, was first published in 1956. As he was rehabilitating from his time spent in the Nazi camp system, Wiesel claims in his memoirs that he originally outlined this book in 1945. However, he decided against going farther with it until he had had more time to reflect on his experiences.

After François Mauriac and Elie Wiesel had a chance encounter in 1954, the author encouraged Wiesel to write about his experiences during the Holocaust. Soon after, while traveling to Brazil by ship, Wiesel finished writing an 862-page memoir, which he then sent to a Buenos Aires publishing business that specialized in Yiddish memoirs. Un di velt hot geshvign, a 245-page book with the same name that was published in Yiddish in 1956, was the outcome (“And the World Remained Silent”).

A introduction by Mauriac was inserted in the 1958 French edition, La Nuit. Two years later, in 1960, Hill & Wang of New York released an English translation that contained only 116 pages. Despite its modest sales at first, it was favorably welcomed by critics, which inspired Wiesel to start concentrating more on his work as a novelist and less on his career as a journalist.

Relocate to America

Wiesel relocated to New York City in 1956 to work as a journalist for the Morgen Journal as their United Nations beat writer. This occurred as Night was nearing publication. With the help of The Journal, a newspaper that catered to Jewish immigrants in New York City, Wiesel was able to get a taste of American life while still feeling a part of his old neighborhood.

In July of that year, Wiesel was hit by a car, breaking almost all the bones in his left side. He was initially in a full-body cast after the accident, and he was finally confined to a wheelchair for a whole year. Wiesel thought that this was an ideal time to complete the process of becoming an American citizen, a decision for which he has occasionally faced criticism from passionate Zionists, as it curtailed his ability to return to France to renew his visa. At the age of 35, Wiesel received citizenship status formally.

Wiesel first met his future wife Marion Ester Rose at the beginning of this decade. Rose was an Austrian Holocaust survivor whose family was incarcerated in a French internment camp before managing to flee to Switzerland. They had originally traveled from Austria to Belgium before being detained and brought to France in 1940, under the Nazi occupation. They were able to arrange to be smuggled into Switzerland in 1942, where they resided for the duration of the conflict.

Marion was married after the war and had a daughter named Jennifer. She was going through a divorce when she met Wiesel, and the two was married on April 2, 1969, in Jerusalem’s old city. In 1972, the year Wiesel was appointed the City University of New York’s Distinguished Professor of Judaic Studies, they gave birth to a son named Shlomo (CUNY).

Period as a Writer

After Night was published, Wiesel wrote Dawn and The Accident, which were partially based on his post-war experiences up until the time of his accident in New York City. Since publishing these books, which were both critically and financially successful, Wiesel has written approximately 60 other books.

The National Jewish Book Council Award (1963), the Grand Prize in Literature from the City of Paris (1983), the National Humanities Medal (2009), and the Norman Mailer Lifetime Achievement Award (2011) are just a few of the accolades Elie Wiesel has received for his writing. Wiesel still publishes opinion pieces on topics like the Holocaust and human rights.

Memorial to the Holocaust in the United States

At Boston University, Wiesel was appointed the Andrew Mellon Professor in the Humanities in 1976, a post he still retains today. He was chosen by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the President’s Commission on the Holocaust two years later. Wiesel was chosen to lead the newly constituted 34-member commission.

Members of Congress, Holocaust historians, Holocaust survivors, and religious leaders were among the diverse range of people in the group. The Commission was tasked with figuring out the best way for the United States to remember and honor the Holocaust.

President Carter received the Commission’s official report, Report to the President: President’s Commission on the Holocaust, on September 27, 1979. The report recommended that the United States construct a Holocaust museum, memorial, and educational facility in the capital city.

On October 7, 1980, Congress formally decided to implement the Commission’s recommendations and began building what would eventually become the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Public Law 96-388, a piece of legislation, changed the Commission into the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, which is made up of 60 members chosen by the President.

The chair was designated as Wiesel, who held it until 1986. Wiesel played a crucial role during this time in establishing the course of USHMM as well as assisting to secure public and private funding to guarantee that the Museum’s objective would be acknowledged. Harvey Meyerhoff succeeded Wiesel as chairman, but Wiesel has occasionally served on the Council throughout the past 40 years.

Elie Wiesel’s quote, “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness,” is inscribed at the Museum’s entry, guaranteeing the perpetuity of his role as a founding member and witness.

A human rights activist

Wiesel has been a fervent supporter of human rights, not only for those who have suffered due to political and religious persecution but also for others who have endured similarly to Jews around the world.

Wiesel was a pioneering voice for the suffering of Ethiopian and Soviet Jews, and he worked tirelessly to guarantee that both communities had opportunity to immigrate to the United States. In his 1986 acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, he spoke out against Nelson Mandela’s incarceration and expressed his worry and criticism for apartheid in South Africa.

Wiesel has also expressed concern about other genocidal situations and breaches of human rights. He called for involvement in the case of “the disappeared” during Argentina’s “Dirty War” in the late 1970s. Additionally, he pushed President Bill Clinton to take action in the former Yugoslavia during the Bosnian atrocities in the mid-1990s.

Wiesel was one of the earliest defenders of the oppressed in Sudan’s Darfur region, and he continues to fight for relief for the locals in this area and other places where genocide warning signs are present.

Wiesel received the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1986, in Oslo, Norway. His wife, as well as his sister Hilda, were present during the wedding. He spoke extensively about his background and experiences during the Holocaust in his acceptance speech, saying that he felt he was accepting the honor on behalf of the six million Jews who perished during that awful time. In addition, he pleaded with everyone to acknowledge the suffering that both Jews and non-Jews were still experiencing, saying that even one individual, like Raoul Wallenberg, could make a difference.

His Work Today

The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity was formed in 1987 by Wiesel and his wife. The Foundation bases its efforts on Wiesel’s commitment to using the Holocaust as a teaching tool in order to combat social injustice and intolerance all around the world.

The Foundation also conducts outreach activities for Ethiopian-Israeli Jewish youth in Israel, in addition to organizing conferences internationally and a yearly competition for high school students’ essays on ethics. The Beit Tzipora Centers for Study and Enrichment, named after Wiesel’s sister who perished in the Holocaust, are the main conduit for this activity.

A Holocaust denier attacked Wiesel in a San Francisco hotel in 2007. The assailant wanted to force Wiesel to refute the Holocaust, but Wiesel managed to flee uninjured. Even though the attacker ran away, he was apprehended a month later because it was determined that he had posted about the assault on various anti-Semitic websites.

Wiesel is still a professor at Boston University, but he has also agreed to serve as a visiting professor at institutions including Yale, Columbia, and Chapman University. Although Wiesel continues to have a pretty busy speaking and writing schedule, he recently decided not to go to Poland for the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz because of health issues.

Wiesel passed away on July 2, 2016, at his Manhattan residence. He was 87. Elie Wiesel was valued $5 million at the time of his passing in 2016.

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