Before he was freed, Wiesel responded to a questionnaire issued by the American military to every inmate asking, among other things, why he was arrested and imprisoned.
For ‘‘being a Jew’’ was his response, like so many others.
In ‘‘Night,’’ he describes his youthful disgust with humanity.
‘‘Here there are no fathers, no brothers, no friends,’’ a prisoner supervising others in exchange for survival tells the teenage Wiesel. ‘‘Everyone lives and dies for himself alone.’’
And yet, in the end, Wiesel says he believes in human redemption, to be explained in the next of his more than 50 books. He won’t reveal more details of the novel, titled ‘‘Redemption"; he never does, till it’s done.
On most days, he writes for four hours, starting at about 5 a.m., when he rises after only four hours of sleep.
His goal ‘‘for the last 20 years of my life’’ has been to fight racism and hatred by organizing global gatherings with high-power participants.
Obama’s inauguration was ‘‘one of the most joyous days of my life, because my people, the American people, showed they could overcome a disease — hatred because of color.’’
The two have shared private lunches at the White House, says Wiesel, who first met Obama when the president was an undergraduate at California’s Occidental College, where Wiesel gave a talk.
Wiesel didn’t remember meeting Obama then, but says the president reminded him more recently of their first encounter.
Someday, Wiesel says he believes his grandchildren will ‘‘applaud the first Jewish president in America.’’
Associated Press writer Randy Herschaft contributed to this report.
Elie Wiesel Foundation: http://www.eliewieselfoundation.org