When I think back on the several weeks I shared a classroom with Elie Wiesel, I remember his stories. How in a boat on the way to Brazil he began drafting what became Night. How Primo Levi called him on the phone soon before committing suicide. It was beautiful to listen to him speak: the almost biblical intensity of his language, the striking kindness in his voice when he greeted me in the mornings I worked in the Letters Collegium. He remembered my name. In his absence the question demands itself: how to be a witness to the witness?
One class period I asked Dr. Wiesel what he thought of monuments to those murdered in the Holocaust. He said that if people wanted to remember through the conduit of some physical landmark or statue, he had no problem with it, but that, ultimately, nothing substitutes for knowledge of history. I hope I can honor my rare opportunity to bear witness to Dr. Wiesel by returning to his texts and stories—as documents and evidence of living history.
—Wyatt McMurry ’14