New Documents Refute a Conspiracy Theory About Elie Wiesel
According to a conspiracy theory popular among the Holocaust deniers Elie Wiesel was interned neither in Auschwitz, nor in Buchenwald. Unfortunately the claim originates from Wiesel’s fellow Auschwitz and Buchenwald survivor Nikolaus Grüner who wrote a whole book about how Wiesel stole the identity of Grüner’s alleged friend Lazar Wiesel. Moreover, the claim is partly based on some authentic camp documents with divergent data (such as showing Lazar Wiesel supposedly being 31 rather than 15 at the time and his father’s name being Abram instead of Shlomo). Therefore I decided to treat this issue in depth instead of simply dismissing it as laughable (which of course it is). We may laugh at it, but letting such claims fester is not the right approach.
In the article “Lying about Elie Wiesel” I show, based both on published as well as some key, heretofore unpublished documents supplied to me by the historian Kenneth Waltzer, that Grüner’s and deniers’s claims do not hold water. Here is the intro:
A whole cottage industry has sprung up in recent years devoted to “proving” that the late Elie Wiesel was a total fraud: an impostor who stole an actual Auschwitz survivor’s identity. Most of the crazies are of course Holocaust deniers. One notable exception is an actual Jewish Auschwitz and Buchenwald survivor, Nikolaus Grüner, whose book Stolen Identity. Auschwitz Number A-7713 serves as a springboard for the deniers.
To remind our readers: according to Elie Wiesel (1928-2016) in Auschwitz he had the number (and a corresponding tattoo) A-7713, his father Shlomo Wiesel had the number A-7712.
The basic denial claims look like this:
1. Elie Wiesel allegedly had no visible Auschwitz tattoo.
2. Camp documents allegedly show that Lazar Wiesel A-7713 from Auschwitz was born in 1913 (not 1928 as Elie Wiesel; note: both “Elie” and “Lazar” are variants of the name “Eliezer”) and that A-7712, who Elie Wiesel said was his father Shlomo, was actually someone named Abram Viezel.
3. Grüner claimed that he knew the “actual” Lazar Wiesel A-7713 in Auschwitz (Monowitz) and Buchenwald and that he wasn’t the same person as Elie Wiesel. Moreover, Grüner claimed to have also known the prisoner A-7712, Lazar’s brother Abram.
From this the conspirologists conclude that Elie Wiesel stole Lazar Wiesel’s identity, sometimes claiming that he also stole the book Night, which is a shorter version of a thicker volume in Yiddish Un di velt hot geshvign, which was, according to some of them, written by the “real” Lazar Wiesel.