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"Hope, Despair, and Memory" by Elie Wiesel
Transcript of "Hope, Despair, and Memory" by Elie Wiesel
After winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, Wiesel gave this speech to the Nobel Prize Committee in Sweden. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as an activist and author, speaking out against violence, repression and racism. The Norwegian Nobel Committee called him "a messenger to mankind; his message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity. His belief that the forces fighting evil in the world can be victorious is a hard-won belief" [Nobel Press Release].
"Hope, Despair, and Memory"
It is with a profound sense of humility that I accept the honor—the highest there is—that you have chosen to bestow upon me. I know your choice transcends my person.
Do I have the right to represent the multitudes who have perished? Do I have the right to accept this great honor on their behalf? I do not. No one may speak for the dead, no one may interpret their mutilated dreams and visions. And yet, I sense their presence. I always do—and at this moment more than ever.
The presence of my parents, that of my little sister. The presence of my teachers, my friends, my companions . . .
This honor belongs to all the survivors and their children and, through us to the Jewish people with whose destiny I have always identified.
I remember: it happened yesterday, or eternities ago. A young Jewish boy discovered the Kingdom of Night. I remember his bewilderment, I remember his anguish. It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.
I remember he asked his father: “Can this be true? This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?”
And now the boy is turning to me. “Tell me,” he asks, “what have you done with my future, what have you done with your life?” And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.
And then I explain to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must 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 and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.
Video of Elie Wiesel's Acceptance Speech
Informational Text- Day One of Unit Plan
10th Grade Classroom
CC.1.2.9-10.D: Determine an author's particular point of view and analyze how rhetoric advances the point of view.
CC.1.2.9-10.H: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing the validity of reasoning and relevance of evidence.
CC.1.2.9-10.L: Read and comprehend literary nonfiction and informational text on grade level, reading independently and proficiently.
L.N.2.1.1: Make inferences and/or draw conclusions based on analysis of a text.
L.N.1.2.3: Use context clues to determine or clarify the meaning of unfamiliar, multiple- meaning, or ambiguous words.
2. The students will understand that all cultures, genders, and age groups similarly experience the suffering and destruction caused by war through the utilization of informational and fiction texts.
2. How are different people/characters affected by the conflicts they must endure?
Night and WWII
Do you remember how Wiesel's reading novel made you feel?
While reading, keep in mind what the message of this speech is. What major points is Wiesel trying to get across to the audience?
Humility: The quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people; the quality or state of being humble
Transcend: To rise above or go beyond the normal limits of [something]
Multitude: A great number of things or people
Kingdom of Night: How Wiesel has described what he experienced during the Holocaust
Bewilderment: The quality of being bewildered
Bewildered: To confuse [someone] very much
Accomplice: A person who works with or helps someone who is doing something wrong or illegal
Neutrality: The quality or state of not supporting either side in an argument, fight, war, etc.; the quality or state of being neutral
Forms of Nonfiction
is an account of a person's life written by someone else. Most biographers rely on primary and secondary sources to write about their subject's life.
is a writer's account of his or her own life. This work usually describes a writer's ife chronologically, from childhood to adulthood.
is a type of autobiography that usually focuses on a significant event or period in a writer's life.
is another, shorter type of autobiographical writing that focuses on a subject of particular interest to the writer.
, a journalist presents facts, statistics, and statements by other people in a straightforward manner.