Oprah's Interview with Elie Wiesel Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Elie Wiesel, the author of the memoir 'Night' and a Holocaust survivor, was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for an article in the November 2000 issue of 'O' magazine. This lesson will guide classroom discussions about this interview.

The Interview

Oprah Winfrey claims that after reading Night by Elie Wiesel, she 'was never the same.' Several years later, Winfrey interviewed Wiesel for 'O' magazine and later chose 'Night' as a book club selection. This lesson provides a series of questions to assist teachers in leading discussions about the 'O' magazine interview in which Wiesel discusses living through the Holocaust and his path towards finding his humanity again after the trauma.

The Holocaust

The questions in this section will help students comprehend Wiesel's experience during the Holocaust.

  • Compare the challenges Wiesel faced at 15 years old to the challenges you face.
  • Why is the number six million significant in this article?
  • What was Wiesel's life like before the Holocaust?
  • What happened to Wiesel on his first day in Auschwitz?
  • Describe the last time Wiesel saw his mother and the last time he saw his father. What would you say if you knew you were seeing the significant people in your life for the last time?
  • Why did Wiesel doubt his own experiences? How did he check himself for accuracy?
  • How did Wiesel's imprisonment affect his religious beliefs?
  • Why is Wiesel's anger and disappointment directed at Hungary instead of Germany?
  • What does Wiesel regret about his time in the concentration camps?

Liberation

The next set of questions review Wiesel's liberation from the death camp and the aftermath of his experience.

  • How did Wiesel escape the camps?
  • How did the German soldiers respond when American soldiers began closing in on them?
  • Where did Wiesel go after he was liberated? Why?
  • Why does Wiesel think his life was spared?
  • How did Wiesel reunite with his family?
  • How has Wiesel's experience affected his relationship with his son?
  • Why did Wiesel travel to the concentration camps with his son?
  • What careers has Wiesel had? Why do you think he chose this path?
  • Why did Wiesel choose to stay silent about his experience for a decade?
  • Why is Wiesel famous?
  • Why does Wiesel appreciate having German students in his class?
  • What regrets does Wiesel have about his life after the Holocaust?

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