Little Grey Rabbit's Historical Skepticism Blog

Of Feigs and Wiesels: A Solution to the Mystery of Elie Wiesel’s Tattoo?

Posted in Auschwitz by littlegreyrabbit on January 26, 2011

One of the constant search terms which attracts transient visitors to this blog are terms relating to Lazar Wiesel, Elie Wiesel and his missing tattoo.

On this blog I have given a brief overview of the facts and documents collected by Auschwitz survivor Niklos Grüner here, but these are essentially available elsewhere on the web.  What I want to do here is propose a possible solution to this mystery.  The reasons for believing Elie Wiesel may have taken the identity of another older Auschwitz survivor, Lazar Wiesel, can be summarised as follows

1. The fact that Auschwitz survivor Niklos Grüner knew Lazar Wiesel and his brother Abraham in Auschwitz and failed to recognise the Nobel Prize Winner on meeting him.  The description of his surprise as he writes it sounds credible

2.  Mr Grüner then went through the Buchenwald archives and uncovered a number of documents that confirmed his memory of an older Lazar and Abraham Wiesel A-7713 and A-7712 respectively

3.  Despite testifying under in court that he possesses a tattoo, A-7713, numerous footages and public photos of a bare-armed Elie Wiesel fails to reveal a tattoo.

To this might be added a fourth reason: there seems to be long-standing suspicion of Elie Wiesel in the Survivor community, to the extent that as far back in the 1980s survivor of the Mengele twins experiment and founder of the Candles museum Eva Kor wrote privately to the Auschwitz museum seeking the registration details of A-7713 and then, years later, privately supplied that information to Mr Grüner by fax.

Mr Grüner believed that his friend Lazar Wiesel wrote Un di Velt Hot Geshvign and this text was changed and adapted by the younger Elie Wiesel and re-released as Nuit.  And although there are some significant differences in text and tone between the two to make this plausible, it also leaves some problems.  The first is why did Lazar Wiesel write his 1954 memoir from the point of view of a teenager not exactly Elie Wiesel’s age but close to it, and why did Lazar Wiesel not object when his work was plagiarised.  As to the first, I have no idea; as to the second, one possibility is that there is familial connection between Lazar Wiesel and Elie Wiesel and permission to use of Lazar Wiesel’s work were freely gifted.

Elie Wiesel is the offspring of two well-established and multi-branched Sighet’s families, the Wiesels and the Feigs.  Survivors of these two families (which I am happy to report seem numerous) have loaded extensive geneaologies on Rootsweb.  A sample output can be seen here. (The database seems to be the responsibility of a one Leslie Gyi, email:  What interests us is the appearance of 3 nameless living Wiesels in this listing – children of Mendel and Golda Wiesel (allegedly Elie Wiesel’s Uncle and Aunt).

Mystery Living Wiesels