What is a witness

Information must be transformed into knowledge, knowledge into sensitivity and sensitivity into commitment. How can we therefore speak, unless we believe that our words have meaning, that our words will help others to prevent my past from becoming another person’s—another peoples’—future. Yes, our stories are essential—essential to memory. I believe that the witnesses, especially the survivors, have the most important role. They can simply say, in the words of the prophet, “I was there.” What is a witness if not someone who has a tale to tell and lives only with one haunting desire: to tell it. Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future. After all, God is God because he remembers.

Elie Wiesel
“A God Who Remembers” on All Things Considered (April 7, 2008)


In memory of Elie Wiesel, the Auschwitz survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and author whose witness forced us to account for our incredible capacity for cruelty.