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Elie Wiesel Profoundly Impacted by Christian Writer

In his book Connecting Christ, Paul Metzger retells the story of the friendship between the Jewish writer Elie Wiesel and the French Christian writer Francois Mauriac. While in Auschwitz, Wiesel was torn from his mother and sisters and forced to watch his father get beaten to death by Nazi guards. After the war, Wiesel chose to keep silent about his traumatic experiences. But as a young writer, Wiesel had the chance to interview Mauriac, a prominent Christian writer and former leader in the French Resistance movement. Though he respected Mauriac, Wiesel arrived at Mauriac's apartment with an ulterior motive: he wanted Mauriac to help him meet the Prime Minister of France, which would have been a boost to Wiesel's emerging writing career. In a 1996 interview here's how Wiesel recounts their first meeting:

Mauriac was an old man then, but when I came to Mauriac, he agreed to see me. We met and we had a painful discussion. The problem was that [Mauriac] was in love with Jesus. He was the most decent person I ever met in that field—as a writer, as a [Christian] writer. Honest, sense of integrity, and he was in love with Jesus. He spoke only of Jesus. Whatever I would ask—Jesus.
Finally … when he said Jesus again I couldn't take it, and … I was discourteous, which I regret to this day. I said, "Mr. Mauriac … ten years or so ago, I have seen children, hundreds of Jewish children, who suffered more than Jesus did on his cross, and we do not speak about it." I felt all of a sudden so embarrassed. I closed my notebook and went to the elevator. He ran after me. He pulled me back; he sat down in his chair, and I in mine, and he began weeping. I have rarely seen an old man weep like that, and I felt like such an idiot. I felt like a criminal. This man didn't deserve that. He was really a pure man, a member of the Resistance. I didn't know what to do. We stayed there like that, he weeping and I closed in my own remorse. And then, at the end … he simply said, "You know, maybe you should talk about it?"
He took me to the elevator and embraced me. And that year, the tenth year, I began writing [Night, my novel about the Holocaust]. After it was translated from Yiddish into French, I sent it to him. We were very, very close friends until his death.

Later in his life Wiesel declared that it was Mauriac, the man "who declared himself in love with Christ," who influenced him to share his story and become a writer.

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