Holocaust High Priest: Comments on Shamir Post
May 20, 2015
This is a follow-up to Israel Shamir’s friendly post in response to Frank Scott’s negative comments about my unauthorized biography of Elie Wiesel, entitled Holocaust High Priest.
I would like to add a few comments to what Shamir wrote. He statements that his friend, Piotr Rawicz, “knew Wiesel there,” [Auschwitz] and the assurance he gives us that “Wiesel was there” [Auschwitz] are simply not true.
It is possible, however, that Wiesel and Rawicz could have met at some point, however briefly, after the war, when they had each established themselves as Holocaust camp veterans within just a few years of each other.
Ravicz published his one and only novel Le Sang du ciel, a modernist work in the surrealist vein, in 1961, and received the Rivarol Prize (awarded to a writer born in a linguistic framework other than French) for it in 1962. Shamir also states erroneously that Ravicz received the highly-prestigious Goncourt Prize, which is not the case. Wiesel published La Nuit in 1958 and he also received the Rivarol Prize in 1963for that work and several other short novels published in the early 1960s.
Each first novel was translated into English, Wiesel’s as Night in 1960, with another one, by his wife in 2006, which is discussed in great detail in my book. Likewise, Ravicz’s novel was translated as Blood from the Sky in 1964, with another, completely separate, translation in 2004.
Shamir states that Rawicz spent “four years at Auschwitz, as much as anybody,” yet Rawicz and his commentators actually only make claims for him being there for two years, from 1942 to 1944, when he was transferred to Terezin.
Rawicz, both in his novel, and in his later life as a literary critic in France, was always very vague, even elusive, about his time spent in Auschwitz. To my knowledge, he never divulged his ID number, date of arrival, block assignment, or other personal information relating to his work duties other than to say he served as a translator while there. In this regard, his friend, the British literary critic and author of the 2004 translation of his novel, Anthony Rudolf, has written of him: “Rawicz was the first to admit that his experience of Auschwitz was not the worst possible.”
What does this mean? Such reserve is very strange indeed for someone whose career benefitted immensely from his aura as a “survivor.” It also stands in opposition, by its prudence, to the outright mendacity and chutzpah of Wiesel who claimed in Nightto have seen two massive flaming pits in close proximity to the main gate into which dump trucks were unloading living adults (Pit 1) and living children (Pit 2).
Rawicz’s “silence” about his claimed stay at Auschwitz was such that, before his suicide in 1982, he never described what his life was actually like there. Nor did he ever provide any eye-witness information about the alleged German policy of “extermination” there.Warren B. RoutledgeAmazon.com: Holocaust High Priest: Elie Wiesel, "Night," the Memory Cult, and the Rise of Revisionism (Holocaust Handbooks Book 30) eBook: Warren B. Routledge: Kindle Store