Elie Wiesel's Family Mourns His Death: 'My Husband Was a Fighter'

The Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor is remembered at a private funeral in New York, while leaders from around the world take to social media to honor Wiesel's legacy.

The coffin of Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel is carried out following his memorial service at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan, New York, U.S., July 3, 2016.
Andrew Kelly, Reuters

REUTERS — The death of concentration camp survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel was mourned on Sunday in a private funeral in New York, attended by Wiesel's wife Marion and daughter, Elisha.

"My husband was a fighter," Marion Wiesel said in a statement. "He fought for the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, and he fought for Israel. He waged countless battles for innocent victims regardless of ethnicity or creed."

Wiesel, 87, died on Saturday at his home in New York City. A private funeral will be followed at a later date by a public memorial, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity said.

Condolences from leaders around the world filled social media with memories of Wiesel demonstrating the triumph of goodness over inconceivable horrors.

His advocacy on behalf of Holocaust victims earned him the Nobel Peace prize in 1986. He told their story in his landmark book "Night," maintaining that "to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time."

Even as he received the Congressional Gold Medal at the White House in 1985, he rebuked U.S. President Ronald Reagan for planning to lay a wreath at a German cemetery where some of Hitler's notorious Waffen SS troops were buried.

His tenacity on behalf of Holocaust sufferers was matched by his warmth and encouragement of loved ones, said his daughter Elisha Wiesel.

"My father raised his voice to presidents and prime ministers when he felt issues on the world stage demanded action. But those who knew him in private life had the pleasure of experiencing a gentle and devout man who was always interested in others, and whose quiet voice moved them to better themselves," she said in a statement.

"I will hear that voice for the rest of my life, and hope and pray that I will continue to earn the unconditional love and trust he always showed me," she said.

While the Romanian-born Wiesel was best known for his campaign never to let the world forget the Holocaust, one of his greatest rewards was working with students, including those at Boston University, where he was a religion and philosophy professor.

"What was most meaningful to him was teaching the innumerable students who attended his university classes," Marion Wiesel said.

Boston University said in a statement the school was heartbroken to have lost such an "iconic" teacher.