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CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
E-mail: melvin-shaw@uiowa.edu

Release: Immediate

Editor's note: Elie Wiesel will not be available to meet with the media at a press conference. Lecture attendees can submit handwritten questions on cards available before the lecture. There will not be an open-microphone question and answer session with Wiesel after the lecture.

Nobel Peace Prize winner, human rights pioneer Elie Wiesel lectures at UI Oct. 14

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Elie Wiesel, the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize laureate who once vowed never to speak of his experiences as a prisoner at the infamous Auschwitz death camp, will present a lecture on human rights at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14 at Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa.

The lecture, "On the Threshold of the 21st Century," is part of Global Focus: Human Rights '98, the UI's year-long commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Human Rights. The lecture is free and is open to the public.

Wiesel and his six-member family were forcibly taken from their home in Sighet, Transylvania (now Romania), and imprisoned at the World War II camp when he was 15-years-old. His mother and a sister were later exterminated in a camp gas chamber; his father died during the latter part of war, leaving Weisel and his two sisters as the family's survivors.

Wiesel, who is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and University Professor at Boston University, became a literary figure after engrossing himself in literature, philosophy and psychology at the University of Paris in Sorbonne. He first wrote of the eye-witnessed Holocaust atrocities in 1948 after some persuasion by Nobel laureate and French writer Francois Mauriac.

In 1958 Wiesel received wide acclaim with the publication of La Nuit (Night). The novel, detailing inside experiences of Jews within concentration camps, has been translated into 25 languages. La Nuit's success was followed by 35 later works on the Holocaust and Judaism.

"Elie Wiesel's visit to our campus is important not least because of who Wiesel is and what he has done, keeping us forever reminded of one of the most barbaric and treacherous episodes in all of human history. His visit is important also because it was the Holocaust through which Wiesel miraculously lived that was the catalyst for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the human rights initiatives that have followed since.

"It is an important visit, and we are very lucky," says Burns Weston, chair of Global Focus: Human Rights '98.

Wiesel has defended the causes of Soviet Jews, Nicaragua's Miskito Indians, Cambodian refugees, Kurds, Argentineans, apartheid opponents in Africa, and Yugoslavian prisoners.

Wiesel and wife Marion, in 1987, established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, which has sponsored human rights conferences across the globe and has been recognized by universities, governments and organizations worldwide.

He holds a distinguished professorship at Boston University; he was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom, The Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement, and former President Jimmy Carter appointed Weisel Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council in 1978. Wiesel holds the rank of Grand Officer in the French Legion of Honor and is the author of the trilogy Night, Dawn and Day, and All Rivers Run to the Sea.

For more information about HR '98 events, visit the Web site: http://www.uiowa.edu/~hr98

10/8/98