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Holocaust author Elie Wiesel is honoured at memorial

By Hillel Italie

Elie Wiesel has been remembered at a private service in Manhattan, as family and friends gathered to praise the endurance and eloquence of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and mourned him as one of the last first-hand witnesses to the Nazis' atrocities.

Millions first learned about the Holocaust through Wiesel, who began publishing in the 1950s, when memories of the Nazis' atrocities were raw and repressed.

He shared the harrowing story of his internment at Auschwitz as a teenager through his classic memoir Night, one of the most widely read and discussed books of the 20th century.

"This is really the double tragedy of it, not only the loss of someone who was so rare and unusual but the fact that those ranks are thinning out," said Rabbi Perry Berkowitz, president of the American Jewish Heritage Organisation and a former assistant to Wiesel, before a service at Fifth Avenue Synagogue.

"At the same time, anti-Semitism, Holocaust revisionism keeps rising.

"The fear is that when there are no more survivors left, will the world learn the lesson, because those voices will be silenced?"

The Holocaust happened more than 70 years ago and few authors from that time remain. Another Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, Hungary's Imre Kertesz, died earlier this year. Like Wiesel, he was 87.

Sara Bloomfield, director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, credited Wiesel with making organisations like hers possible.

"Night really put Elie Wiesel's personal memories into our personal consciousness and it ended up spawning a global remembrance movement that is very vital today," she said.

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