Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel to speak at Walton Arts Center

Elie Wiesel at the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Courtesy, CC 2.0

Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel will speak at the Walton Arts Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 7.

The event is part of the University of Arkansas student-funded Distinguished Lecture Series.

A 30-minute book signing will follow the lecture.

The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6 p.m. and free tickets will be given out at the door. Auditorium seating is limited to about 1,100 people, but overflow seating with video and audio will be available.

To help accommodate University of Arkansas students, bus service to and from the Walton Arts Center will be provided. Two university transit buses will run a route between the Central Station next to the Arkansas Union and the Walton Arts Center from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and will be available to return students to campus after the lecture and book signing.


Wiesel was 15 years old in 1944 when he and his family were sent from their home in what was then Hungary to the Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp. His mother and younger sister were killed there. Wiesel and his father worked as slave laborers at Auschwitz and later Buchenwald, where his father was killed a few months before the camps were liberated by U.S. troops.

Wiesel was sent to an orphanage in France, where he learned French. He attended the Sorbonne and later became a journalist.

Wiesel remained silent about his experiences in the concentration camps for 10 years, until he was persuaded to write about them. The end result was his first book, La Nuit, published in 1958. It was translated and published in the United States as Night in 1960. It has since become an international best seller and is required reading in many U.S. high school and college classes.

“This lecture has created a huge amount of interest,” said Kayln Williams, student co-chair of the Distinguished Lecture Series committee. “Students who have read Night are excited about having the chance to hear professor Wiesel in person. We’ve also heard from people all over the state who are interested in attending. Several high school teachers who assign Night in their classes have said they want to bring their students to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Wiesel received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 and shortly afterward established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. He was a driving force in the creation of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work.

Wiesel has written more than 50 books and has taught at Boston University, Yale University, and City University of New York.