According to Mattogno
, citing microfilm records from the Auschwitz museum ("Liste der Judentransporte, Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, microfilm no. 727/27," Mattogno's footnote 15), the Auschwitz registration number A-7713 was assigned on May 24, 1944. In his article, Mattogno makes the case that this means Elie Wiesel could not have been assigned A-7713 because he would have arrived at Auschwitz after
Elie Wiesel does not specify the date of his deportation to Auschwitz. His narrative starts, though, with reference to a specific date: “On the Saturday before Pentecost [“Shavuòth” in the Italian edition], in the spring sunshine, people strolled, carefree and unheeding, through the swarming streets.” (p.22-23). In 1944, this festival fell on 28 May 1944 , a Sunday. The day in question was thus 27 May. The first transport of Jews left Sighet on the following day, hence, on 28 May. “Then, at last, at one o’clock in the afternoon, came the signal to leave” (p.27). Elie Wiesel then speaks of “Monday” (p. 29), the dawn (p.29), the day after tomorrow (p. 29) saying, at the end, “Saturday, the day of rest, was chosen for our expulsion” (p. 33) He then speaks about the traditional Friday evening meal and goes on to say: «The following morning, we marched to the station […]» (p. 33, which means that the trip to Auschwitz began on Saturday, 3 June 1944.
The duration of the trip is not given, but transports from Hungary usually took three or four days to reach Auschwitz-Birkenau. Elie Wiesel spent the night at Birkenau and was moved to Auschwitz the following day where he was given the number A-7713, which was tattooed on his arm (p. 54). Yet, according to him, “it was a beautiful April day” (p. 51).
This schedule is pure invention. If he did leave Sighet on 3 June 1944 he could not have arrived at Auschwitz in April. Moreover, the ID number A-7713 was given out on 24 May, the day on which 2,000 Hungarian Jews were assigned the numbers A-5729 through A-7728 . According to Randolph L. Braham, a Jewish transport left Máramarossziget on 20 May 1944. Allowing four days for the journey, this was the transport of Lázár Wiesel who was assigned the ID number A-7713 precisely on 24 May 1944. But apparently, Elie Wiesel was unaware of all these things.
That seems pretty conclusive.
On the other hand, however, Carolyn Yeager's article about the various Wiesel signatures
makes the case that Wiesel must have been deported from Sighet on May 20, 1944:
In the “revised and updated” new translation of 2006, Wiesel gives his family’s date of deportation to the “small ghetto” as May 17, 1944. I arrive at this date because Wiesel writes that it was “some two weeks before Shavuot” (Shavuot fell on May 28 in 1944 4) that the deportation order was announced to his family and neighbors. [Remember, Sighet had 90,000 residents, at least one-third of them Jews, while Wiesel makes it sound like he lived in a little village.] Departures were to take place “street by street” starting the next day. That would be May 15. But the Wiesel family was scheduled to leave in the 3rd group, which left two days later, on May 17. After being marched to the “small ghetto,” they stayed there “a few days.” On a “Saturday,” they boarded trains.5 The 20th of May, 1944 was a Saturday.
If Mattogno is correct that "transports from Hungary usually took three or four days to reach Auschwitz-Birkenau," which seems probable, and if Wiesel's transport departed on May 20, then it's entirely possible for him to have arrived on May 23, spent the night at Birkenau, and then been marched over to Auschwitz on May 24 to get his prisoner number, A-7713 . . . exactly like Wiesel has always said.
Now I'm pretty sure Carolyn wasn't looking to prove that Wiesel's claim to number A-7713 is legitimate (her focus in the article is actually on discrepancies in various arrest dates in the later Buchenwald paperwork), but if her reconstruction of the deportation's timing is correct, that's what she's done.
So who's right, Mattogno or Yeager?
Both, probably. The problem, of course, is that Wiesel is a moving target. Mattogno is using the original edition of "Night," as translated by Stella Rodway. And sure enough, in that version it says "On the Saturday before Pentecost . . . " But the "revised and updated" 2006 translation, which Carolyn quotes in her article, says "Some two weeks before Shavuot." Since Pentecost and Shavuot are the same thing (Rodway just uses the more familiar term for non-Jewish readers, "Pentecost" being the name of a Christian holiday as well), that means that we have two possibilities:
1) the Saturday before Pentecost/Shavuot,
2) an unspecified date "some two weeks before."
As Mattogno and Yeager both note, Shavuot was on May 28 in 1944 (it's easy to check
), a Sunday. So counting backwards, "the Saturday before Pentecost" (May 28) gives May 27, and "two weeks before" gives May 14. In one case, the dates make it impossible for Elie Wiesel to have been assigned A-7713, in the other, they line up perfectly.
So here's a situation where determining what the original text really says is important. Someone reading Mattogno's article and then checking the most recent "revised and updated" edition of "Night" might just conclude that he's dishonest--the text there doesn't say "the Saturday before," it says "some two weeks before." Sheesh. And someone reading Carolyn's article, with Mattogno's in mind, might conclude that while she may start from the "correct" premises (again, according to the "revised and updated" version!), she really just shoots shot herself in the foot by proving that Wiesel left Sighet on May 20, exactly
the right date for him to be on the transport recorded by Randolph Braham and to arrive in Auschwitz on May 24 to receive prisoner number A-7713. Is Mattogno lying? Can Carolyn not shoot straight?
Or could it just be that Wiesel is covering his tracks, sowing confusion among revisionists along the way?
"Un di Velt hot Geshwign," p. 22:
Un azoy zenen teg farlofn, teg velkhe hobn aruntergerisn bleter fun kalendar un undz dernentert tsu yenem shwartsn shbth. Vos vet oyf eybik farbleybn in meyn zkhrwn, afilu ven ikh vel zeyn farmshpt tsu lebn bizn letstn tog fun ale teg, oyf der doziker tsby"wthdiker velt.
Geshen iz dos Shbth far Shbw"wth.
A friling-zun hot oysgegosn ir likht un varemkeyt iber der gorer velt un oykh iber geto. . . .
And so the days raced by, days which ripped away pages from the calendar and brought us nearer to that black Saturday [lit, black Sabbath]. Which will remain forever in my memory, even if I were condemned to live to the very last day of days on this deceiving world.
It happened Saturday [Sabbath] before Shavuot.
The springtime sun had spread its light and warmth over the whole world, and even over the ghetto. . . .
(Notice how he says he'll never forget "that black Saturday" even if he was "condemned to live to the very last day of days." I guess he might still mix the date up, though, right?)
Anyway, case closed? Well, there's one last possibility. Jewish holidays are counted from the evening of the day before, and so maybe the Yiddish text is including Saturday, May 27 as part of Shavuot, thus making "Saturday before Shavuot" one week earlier, or May 20. But of course that still doesn't fix the problem, since that date is just the starting point for the deportation process for the Jewish community: the Wiesel family isn't relocated to the small ghetto until three days later, and not actually shipped out from Sighet until after several more. Which would mean, of course, that Elie Wiesel could not have been on the transport that left Sighet on May 20, and could not have arrived at Auschwitz by May 24 to receive prisoner number A-7713.
And somebody must have pointed that out to our friend Elie. So the whole thing gets wound backwards by two whole weeks. The text is quietly changed . . . and no one is supposed to notice.
Oh, and by the way, the original really does say "it was a beautiful April day":
A sheyner April-tog iz es geven. A frilings-rich in der luft.
It was a beautiful April day. A scent of spring in the air.
"Un di Velt," p. 83
Quietly changed, in 2006, to "It was a beautiful day in May."
Do you suppose Elie reads Carlo Mattogno?