Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

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borjastick
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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby borjastick » 3 years 1 month ago (Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:23 am)

Kingfisher wrote:We cannot make sweeping statements about accents without more detailed knowledge and the opinions of people qualified to judge. Wiesel was from the part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire absorbed into Romania, though temporarily restored to Hungary during the war. The whole area was a patchwork of languages and Wiesel's own language was Yiddish. Wiesel then lived a long time in France and settled in the US. There are all sorts of influences on his accent.

Something that would be more profitable to pursue would be whether anyone has tried to speak Hungarian or correspond with him in Hungarian. The real Eli must know Hungarian, if only as a second language.


I agree with you Kingfisher. My own father was born in Dublin, Eire in 1926 living there until he was 14 years of age. During that time of course he was surrounded by family and friends who spoke not only with an Irish accent but also spoke Gaelic. My dad recently revealed to me that he can still speak Gaelic. However he never had an irish accent once he came to Britain, deciding that the racism and anti Irish sentiment were bad enough to make him deliberately lose his accent. His whole family spoke with very distinct accents. The only words he ever said that gave a hint of Irish lilt were Birthday and Potato, though I don't know why.

As you say what's really important about Weasel is if he could speak Hungarian and perhaps if we could get the person who washed his body prior to burial that might be very revealing.
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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby senesino » 3 years 1 month ago (Thu Aug 18, 2016 5:56 am)

"We cannot make sweeping statements about accents without more detailed knowledge and the opinions of people qualified to judge. "

As an Englishmen I have been well used to judging accents for the whole of my life as there are so many different accents here, This without any professional opinion. I can tell the difference between different areas of London, Liverpool, Essex, Norfolk, Devon, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Hull, West Midlands, East Midlands, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Sunderland, Cardiff, Swansea, North Wales, South Wales and many others. So it is not very difficult for me to tell the difference between the accent of one foreign country and another. In addition, Hungarian comes from a completely different language family to any other European language except Finnish. I know Hungarian quite well as I have spent a lot of time in Budapest.

There is one video on the internet called "Elie Wiesel Comes Home" in which a Hungarian from his supposed home town of Sighet, Romania talks to him and "Elie Wiesel" makes very short interruptions in Hungarian, never saying more than a few words. Hungarians on the website confirm he is not talking Hungarian properly as he does not use the right inflections, they say that he talks like someone reading out of a phrase book.

It seems strange that Carolyn Yeager says that she wants to find out who "Elie Wiesel" is, yet she has not asked a language expert to confirm what accent he has. She seems obsessed about his tattoo or lack of it. Living in France would not alter "Elie Wiesel"'s accent in speaking English. If I lived in France I would still speak Russian with an English accent, not a French one. This is because your "accent" is actually the sounds that you learned as a child when you learned your first language, and these can never be changed when you are older.

Wiesel's own language was not Yiddish. We have this from the testimony of Miklos Gruner, who said that when he first met "Elie Wiesel" he could not speak Jewish (by which he meant Yiddish). If "Elie Wiesel" had really been brought up in Sighet, Romania, this was a Hungarian speaking town and so his first language would have been Hungarian. The fact he does not speak Hungarian shows that he is not the real Lazar Wiesel.

It does not seem as if "Elie Wiesel" ever made any attempt to change his Serbian accent. Probably this was because in the pre-internet days the media was very tightly controlled and so even if someone questioned his accent, nobody would get to hear about this, so it was not necessary for him to go to this trouble.

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby Kingfisher » 3 years 1 month ago (Fri Aug 19, 2016 8:48 am)

senesino wrote:"We cannot make sweeping statements about accents without more detailed knowledge and the opinions of people qualified to judge. "

As an Englishmen I have been well used to judging accents for the whole of my life as there are so many different accents here, This without any professional opinion. I can tell the difference between different areas of London, Liverpool, Essex, Norfolk, Devon, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Hull, West Midlands, East Midlands, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Sunderland, Cardiff, Swansea, North Wales, South Wales and many others. So it is not very difficult for me to tell the difference between the accent of one foreign country and another. In addition, Hungarian comes from a completely different language family to any other European language except Finnish. I know Hungarian quite well as I have spent a lot of time in Budapest.

There is one video on the internet called "Elie Wiesel Comes Home" in which a Hungarian from his supposed home town of Sighet, Romania talks to him and "Elie Wiesel" makes very short interruptions in Hungarian, never saying more than a few words. Hungarians on the website confirm he is not talking Hungarian properly as he does not use the right inflections, they say that he talks like someone reading out of a phrase book.

It seems strange that Carolyn Yeager says that she wants to find out who "Elie Wiesel" is, yet she has not asked a language expert to confirm what accent he has. She seems obsessed about his tattoo or lack of it. Living in France would not alter "Elie Wiesel"'s accent in speaking English. If I lived in France I would still speak Russian with an English accent, not a French one. This is because your "accent" is actually the sounds that you learned as a child when you learned your first language, and these can never be changed when you are older.

Wiesel's own language was not Yiddish. We have this from the testimony of Miklos Gruner, who said that when he first met "Elie Wiesel" he could not speak Jewish (by which he meant Yiddish). If "Elie Wiesel" had really been brought up in Sighet, Romania, this was a Hungarian speaking town and so his first language would have been Hungarian. The fact he does not speak Hungarian shows that he is not the real Lazar Wiesel.

It does not seem as if "Elie Wiesel" ever made any attempt to change his Serbian accent. Probably this was because in the pre-internet days the media was very tightly controlled and so even if someone questioned his accent, nobody would get to hear about this, so it was not necessary for him to go to this trouble.

I don't want to get involved with the wide variety of accents within the British Isles. I am quite familiar with them as is borjastick as we are both English. I would agree that a Hungarian accent is different from a Slavic one, but not always distinctively so. Only last week I was sitting in England with two Hungarians and we were served by a waitress who was clearly East European and she turned out to be Hungarian, though none of us had realised this. That Hungarian is a non-Indo-European language is not relevant. Accents and language don't have a perfect fit: most Indian accents are remarkably similar despite the large number of languages and two distinct families. Accents can and do change up to late teens, and if a Northerner, like me , you move south as an adult the accent can mellow.

I am also fairly familiar with the Hungarian accent. I know a number of Hungarians and have been learning Hungarian. I do agree that Wiesel did not have an accent I would call Hungarian, but I have pointed to the large number of other influences. Hungarians speaking English have a generally flat accent whereas Wiesel's is almost histrionically sing-song, but that could just be his personality or influence from French. I don't agree that living in France would not affect Wiesel's accent in English, which he presumably learned later. It does not conform to my experience (A German told me my German had a French accent), but there's no point in arguing about it. Some foreign accents are quite distinctive in English: French, German, Italian, Indian (generically, covering a wide range of languages both Indo-European and Dravidian), but Hungarian is not one. This said, I agree that Wiesel does not sound Hungarian to me. I'm not very familiar with the Serbian accent.

I think a more profitable line of enquiry is the other point you raised of Hungarians attempting to speak Hungarian to him. We have Grüner's word that Wiesel could not speak Yiddish, but this alone is not conclusive: one person's word and not a disinterested party. The video you referred to sounds interesting. I will look it up. Bear in mind though that if he left Sziget in his early teens his Hungarian would be pretty rusty, especially if he never used it again, though we are entitled to wonder why he shunned contact with Hungarian speakers. It is quite possible that he was schooled in Romanian rather than Hungarian, since the territory was taken over by Romania in 1918 or thereabouts.

Is there really no information to be found anywhere on whether Wiesel spoke Hungarian, Yiddish or Romanian? Or two or all three?

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby Kingfisher » 3 years 1 month ago (Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:16 am)

I've watched the video. There is no doubt that Wiesel spoke Hungarian. His language is simple, so simple that I can understand just about every word whereas I can't understand the other man properly, but this is consistent with his having abandoned Hungarian for French and then English as his main language of communication. Or perhaps Hungarian was never more than a second language to Yiddish. He appears to understand the other man without difficulty.

Of course this does not rule out the possibility that he is a Hungarian Serb.

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby Kingfisher » 3 years 1 month ago (Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:24 am)

I just found the following transcript of an interview with Wiesel: https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes ... cript.html

It contains some interesting titbits, but in what is the most interesting part for us there titillating gaps that the transcriber did not catch:
Elie Wiesel: But as to Hungary I'll come /- - -/ You know I'm sure you ... you know it better than I ... We lived in our little town, even under the Romanian regime we spoke /- - -/ at home and my parents still remember the/- - -/ Hungarians and before 1914 or so and they loved Hungary. They loved it. They knew more about Hungarian literature than about Romanian literature. /- - -/. At home we spoke ... And when the Hungarians came in, we felt good, we went to greet them /- - -/ Hungary we have so much in common and then I remember my father in the early forties did everything possible to get to prove, proof that we were Hungarian citizens and then we got the papers, I never left them, they were always in my pocket, and then in 1944, May, when the deportation began we came to the Synagogue, all the Jews were assembled and we gave the papers, thinking now we would be protected by a Hungarian Lieutenant. He didn't even look at them, just threw them up into the waste basket. That to me was a very important moment.

"even under the Romanian regime we spoke /- - -/ at home..." It does look as though that gap was "Hungarian". Perhaps he said "Magyar" and the transcriber didn't understand.

Later however:
You know Imre Kertész book, Being without a Fate ... have you read it?

Elie Wiesel: I know of this book, yes.

Have you read it?

Elie Wiesel: I have read all of his works. In French, I have read his books in French.

In French?

Of course, it may simply be that in France the French version was more readily available, he may, by now, read more confidently in French than Hungarian and we have not ruled out completely that his first language was Yiddish, though that is now looking less likely.

[written later]

I have now found the actual interview on video: http://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/?id=405

I'm going to take back some of what I said earlier that was based on my memory of listening to Wiesel talking to Oprah Winfrey at Auschwitz. Listening to him here, talking to a Swedish-Hungarian Jew, I accept that his accent could be Hungarian and I don't hear French. Incidentally, Klein's accent distinctly contains Swedish intonations over his native Hungarian, but that probably comes from hearing Swedes speaking English.

In the video Wiesel clearly says "We spoke Hungarian at home". I don't understand why the transcriber didn't get it.
So what did that moment lead to, how did your feelings change radically and forever towards Hungarians?

Elie Wiesel: Then I thought forever. I wrote in Night, I said that at that time I began hating Hungarians.
So probably he began to hate their language.

We are now left with the puzzle of why did he, and how was he able to, write Un di Velt Hot Geshvign in Yiddish.

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby senesino » 3 years 4 days ago (Fri Sep 16, 2016 10:06 am)

The video shown on the internet "Elie Wiesel Comes Home" is a video of "Elie Wiesel" talking to a native Hungarian. The Hungarian talks a lot and "Elie Wiesel" just makes short comments, which Hungarian commenters on the site confirm show that he is talking like from a phrase book with incorrect inflections, and cannot speak Hungarian.

You do not need to be an expert to tell if someone is speaking English with a French, American, German, Scottish, Welsh or Italian accent. Similar with Serbian accent.

Elie Wiesel's name or any other name is not on the entry card to Paris. Whoever heard of any entry card without a person's name on it? Therefore it must have been cut off in the photo.

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby sweetie pie » 3 years 4 days ago (Fri Sep 16, 2016 10:17 pm)

senesino wrote:Wiesel's own language was not Yiddish. We have this from the testimony of Miklos Gruner, who said that when he first met "Elie Wiesel" he could not speak Jewish (by which he meant Yiddish). If "Elie Wiesel" had really been brought up in Sighet, Romania, this was a Hungarian speaking town and so his first language would have been Hungarian. The fact he does not speak Hungarian shows that he is not the real Lazar Wiesel.



This thread has become just plain ridiculous.

Here are things to remember:
Wiesel has written that he spoke Yiddish at home. He also learned Hebrew. He personally did not speak Hungarian unless he had to. He actually hated - and feared - Hungarians/Christians; he only wanted to be around Jews. Growing up in the tight Jewish community, he was a spoiled 'only son' whose father was preoccupied and often away from home, while his mother indulged him. He played sick and stayed home from school often. So his Hungarian was simply not very good, and he let it go altogether in France. Therefore, you would call it very rusty, very rudimentary later on in that video senesino is referring to, which I have seen.

Miklos Grüner lies about a lot of things, and shouldn't be taken as a truth-teller about everything. He did get the documents from Auschwitz and Buchenwald that have shown that Eliezer Wiesel, age 15-16, was not recorded or registered at either camp, and for that Grüner is a hero. But the reason EW didn't want to speak Yiddish when they met in Stockholm is unknown (if it is even true!). Wiesel worked for a Yiddish newspaper when living in France.

Trying to say he's Serbian accomplishes nothing. If it was inspired by the entry card from Yugoslavia, that has been knocked out as evidence since it's now been established that is not a picture of Elie Wiesel on the card. Maybe you could find out who the guy on the card is ... :lol:

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby Kingfisher » 3 years 3 days ago (Sat Sep 17, 2016 2:13 pm)

Sweetie pie
As I have posted above, Wiesel stated on video that he spoke Hungarian at home.

Senesino
Can you give a reference for Hungarians commenting on Wiesel's spoken Hungarian? The comments to the video are disabled.

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby sweetie pie » 3 years 3 days ago (Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:28 pm)

Kingfisher wrote:Sweetie pie
As I have posted above, Wiesel stated on video that he spoke Hungarian at home.


He may have said that, kingfisher, but that doesn't make it true. He has also written that his family spoke Yiddish at home. One thing you can count on with Wiesel is that he contradicts himself to say whatever is most convenient at the time. There is no way his family spoke Hungarian at home. Why he said that is anybody's guess, but maybe the context of the interview would give some clues.

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby Kingfisher » 3 years 3 days ago (Sun Sep 18, 2016 6:19 am)

sweetie pie wrote:
Kingfisher wrote:Sweetie pie
As I have posted above, Wiesel stated on video that he spoke Hungarian at home.

He has also written that his family spoke Yiddish at home.

What's your reference for this?
There is no way his family spoke Hungarian at home.
Why do you think this?

It is clear from the Wiesel Comes Home video that he speaks and understands Hungarian. If he has not spoken the language, indeed has deliberately avoided it, for seventy years, it is normal he should speak simply and hesitantly.

It is of course possible that they used both Hungarian and Yiddish, but if i recall correctly he said that they always spoke Hungarian.

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby sweetie pie » 3 years 21 hours ago (Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:22 am)

"He has also written that his family spoke Yiddish at home."
What's your reference for this?

"There is no way his family spoke Hungarian at home,"
Why do you think this?


In his official autobiography All Rivers Run to the Sea, he never mentions speaking Hungarian. On page 293:
"I love Yiddish because it has been with me from the cradle. It was in Yiddish that I spoke my first words and expressed my first fears.It is a bridge to my childhood years. [...] I need Yiddish to laugh and cry, to celebrate and express regret, to delve into my memories anew."
P. 163: Of his first newspaper job, he wrote: "I read Hebrew well and spoke fluent Yiddish, but my Germanized writing wasn't good. [...] that was not surprising since I was wholly ignorant of Yiddish grammar and its vast, rich literature."

It's also in 'his' Yiddish book "Un di Welt ..." that they spoke Yiddish at home, but I'm not going to look it up.

If he grew up speaking Hungarian at home, it would have been his native language and he would have continued to speak it. He never did except when he was in Hungary, and then poorly. All shetl Jews spoke Yiddish among themselves. Don't believe the stories he tells of how upstanding and cosmopolitan his family was. Supposedly, his sister Hilda spoke Roumainian well.


It is clear from the Wiesel Comes Home video that he speaks and understands Hungarian. If he has not spoken the language, indeed has deliberately avoided it, for seventy years, it is normal he should speak simply and hesitantly.

That is partly what I said, but his speaking and understanding was very primitive. What he said on the subject in one video titled "Going Home" doesn't mean much. He has a foundation in Hungary under his name, so naturally wants to appear a "native son."

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby senesino » 3 years 7 hours ago (Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:29 am)

I just found proof that Elie Wiesel spoke Serbo-Croat (the language used in Serbia and Croatia). In the ABC video on the internet "Elie Wiesel visits Bosnia" a man on his right at 3.20 mins speaks to him in Serbo-Croat without a translator.

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby Kingfisher » 2 years 11 months ago (Wed Sep 21, 2016 3:46 pm)

senesino wrote:I just found proof that Elie Wiesel spoke Serbo-Croat (the language used in Serbia and Croatia). In the ABC video on the internet "Elie Wiesel visits Bosnia" a man on his right at 3.20 mins speaks to him in Serbo-Croat without a translator.

There is an interpreter. Start at 3:07 and it is clear that the woman speaking then is translating into French.

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby Nicholas Ennos » 1 year 7 months ago (Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:47 pm)

It is not true that Wiesel's own language was Yiddish. The Hungarian Jew Miklos Gruner says that when he first met him he tried to talk to him in both Hungarian and Yiddish and that Wiesel understood neither language. In the video "Elie Wiesel Goes Home" Wiesel speaks a few words of Hungarian badly. I know quite a lot of Hungarian and can tell quite easily that Wiesel could not speak this language. The fact that Wiesel had an entry card to France from the Yugoslavian Embassy in Paris shows he must have been a Yugoslavian citizen.

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Re: Elie Wiesel: Identity Theft

Postby sweetie pie » 1 year 7 months ago (Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:51 pm)

Nicholas Ennos wrote:It is not true that Wiesel's own language was Yiddish. The Hungarian Jew Miklos Gruner says that when he first met him he tried to talk to him in both Hungarian and Yiddish and that Wiesel understood neither language. In the video "Elie Wiesel Goes Home" Wiesel speaks a few words of Hungarian badly. I know quite a lot of Hungarian and can tell quite easily that Wiesel could not speak this language. The fact that Wiesel had an entry card to France from the Yugoslavian Embassy in Paris shows he must have been a Yugoslavian citizen.


You are simply repeating what has already been disproven. Isn't there a rule about that?

1. It doesn't matter what Miklos Gruner says. That is not proof.
2. Because Wiesel could not speak Hungarian with any fluency, doesn't mean he spoke Serbian.
3. The entry card is cut so there is no name on it. Why do you keep showing a card with no name? You are no doubt the one who cut the name off the card.
4. The photo on the entry card is not Wiesel. Photos of Wiesel from that time have been shown here and on another thread also, that show that Wiesel had different features and straight black hair. His lips are thicker than this entry card guy, and his nose straighter, and he was heavier overall.
5. You are the only person in the world who says Wiesel was Serbian. Why is that?


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