Few people in Europe escaped unscathed the ravages of the Nazis during World War II. Some Jews who survived the Holocaust went on to lead successful lives, but not one of them was left unaffected by the experience.
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Author Elie Wiesel makes his opinion known in his 36 works about the Holocaust, Judaism and moral responsibility. His intent is to combat the viciousness of genocide, racism and hatred. The Romanian village where he was born and raised was invaded by Nazis in 1944 and its residents, including Wiesel, were deported to concentration camps. "Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live," he wrote. Wiesel dedicated his life to reminding people about the tragedies of the Holocaust.
Hungarian novelist Imre Kertesz won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2002. His semiautobiographical work explains the experience of a person living during the Holocaust. Kertesz was sent the concentration camps in Auschwitz and in Buchenwald with 7,000 of his fellow Hungarian Jews from Budapest. Kertesz served in the army from 1951 to 1953 and then immersed himself in writing. "Auschwitz must have been hanging in the air for a long, long time, centuries, perhaps like a dark fruit slowly ripening in the sparkling rays of innumerable ignominious deeds, waiting to finally drop on one's head," he wrote.
Two years after his parents returned with him to Poland from France, Roman Polanski was taken to a concentration camp where his mother died. Polanski escaped and roamed the Polish wilderness, living with various Catholic families. He frequented German movies and eventually started acting in the 1950s. He later studied at the Lodz Film School and started directing movies in the late 1950s. Polanski moved to France, continued making films and then went on to Hollywood where his success continued. Polanski was convicted in the 1970s of statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in the United States. He fled to Europe and hasn't returned, as of April 2011. He continued directing in Europe, where he made the Oscar-winning 2002 film, "The Pianist," for which he won the award for best director.
Architect and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was in and out of concentration camps during the early 1940s. His bribes bought him freedom, though he was consistently recaptured. When lying in a ditch and weighing less than 45.4kg., Wiesenthal was freed when the Nazis were defeated. He was reunited with his wife, who had been living under a different identity, and the couple had their first baby a year later. Wiesenthal played a critical role in the capture of Nazi war criminals for the next three decades. His biographers credit him with revealing 1,100 Nazi war criminals.
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