Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel (1928-2016) was an ardent opponent of injustice and discrimination. On November 5, 1989, the Human Rights Campaign (HRCF at the time) presented him with our Humanitarian of the Year award at our eighth annual New York Dinner, held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
“Those who hate you, hate me,” he told the overflow crowd. “Bigots do not stop at classes, at races, or at lesbians and gays. Those who hate, hate everybody.”
In his remarks, Wiesel recounted the shared experiences of the Jewish and gay communities in the Nazi death camps, stating that he had seen the gays who were imprisoned, tortured and murdered “in those places of darkness, silence and fire.”
In a New York Times article published two days after the HRCF dinner, writer Richard Plant noted that our event “marked a special day … for the first time in 50 years, the gay community and the Jewish community shared the pain of their memories.”
Elie Wiesel made a significant contribution in educating the world about the tragic treatment of gay people during the years of the Holocaust. He understood that one must never be silent when the forces of bigotry seek power.
May his memory always be a blessing to those who fight to end intolerance, ignorance and injustice.
Gregory King served as Communications Director of the Human Rights Campaign from 1988 to 1995.