Elie Wiesel (30 September 1928 – 2 July 2016) was a Romanian Holocaust survivor, academic, political activist and author. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. Wiesel was also instrumental in the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
In his account of his time in Auschwitz entitled ‘Night’, Wiesel discusses how, as some people continued to pray and partake in religious activities to oppose the Nazis, his imprisonment made him question his Jewish faith and the existence of god.
On evening activities in the camp Wiesel wrote: ‘Some talked of God, of his mysterious ways, of the sins of the Jewish people, and of their future deliverance. But I had ceased to pray. How I sympathised with Job! I did not deny God’s existence, but I doubted His absolute justice’ [Elie Wiesel, Night, translated by Stella Rodway (London: Penguin, 1981), p.53].
Whilst many continued to oppose the Nazis through on-going religious practice, some, like Wiesel, questioned their faith. Each person reacted differently to their circumstances of persecution.
After the war, Wiesel referred to himself as an agnostic.