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‘Action Is the Only Remedy to Indifference’: Elie Wiesel’s Most Powerful Quotes

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Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor who wrote the internationally acclaimed memoir Night, died Saturday at the age of 87.

He was an outspoken human rights activist whose words informed and inspired millions around the world, as he advocated for social justice and implored people to remember the Holocaust.

Below are some of his most memorable words of wisdom:

  • “Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness,” he said at the Legacy of Holocaust Survivors conference at Yad Vashem’s Valley of the Communities in April 2002.
  • “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe,” he said in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on Dec. 10, 1986.
  • “Action is the only remedy to indifference: the most insidious danger of all,” he said in the same speech.
  • “For in the end, it is all about memory, its sources and its magnitude, and, of course, its consequences,” he wrote in Night, his internationally acclaimed memoir, published in 1960.
  • “For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time,” he also wrote in the memoir.
  • “[Albert] Camus said, ‘Where there is no hope, one must invent hope.’ It is only pessimistic if you stop with the first half of the sentence and just say, There is no hope. Like Camus, even when it seems hopeless, I invent reasons to hope,” he said in an interview with TIME in 2006.
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    Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com