Night By Elie Wiesel

Night By Elie Wiesel “Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live.

Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.” -Elie Wiesel The Holocaust-the mass murder of European Jews by the Nazis during World War II. It was the unthinkable, the horrific murder of 6 million Jews and millions of civilians of different ethnic and racial backgrouds. It was average men entering the German army and turned into Nazis, cold-blooded killers. It was the connotation of Holocaust which became Night, by Elie Wiesel.

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This paints a picture, full of vivid imagery and truth, about the genocide of his own people. Elie witnesses the starvation, brutal beating, and eventual death of his friends, family, and fellow Jews. Wiesel, himself, survived Auschwitz, Buna, Buchenwald, and Gleiwitz, all German concentration camps, where atrocities such as cremation and murder hung thickly in the air like a heavy cologne. Born September 30, 1928, Eliezer Wiesel led a life representative of many Jewish children. Growing up in a small village in Romania, his world revolved around family, religious study, community, and God.

Yet his family, community, and his innocent faith were destroyed upon the deportation of his village in 1944. One of the main topics in this book is how Elie, a boy of strong religious faith, along with many of his fellow jews, lose their faith in God due to the horrific effects of the concentration camps. Elie Wiesel lived his early childhood in the town of Transylvania, in Hungary, during the early 1940s. At a young age, Elie took a strong interest in Jewish religion, while he spent most of his time studying the Talmud. Eventually he makes aquaintances with Moshe the Beadle who takes Elie under his wing, and also instructs him more in depth of the ways of the Talmud and cabbala. Elie is taught to question God for answers through Moshes instruction.

Moshe is sent away to a concentration camp, and upon his return, Elie finds that he has changed dramatically. This is a foreshadowing of what will become of Elies faith in the strength and power of God. “Moshe had changed..He no longer talked to me of God or the cabbala, but only of what he had seen.”(4) The first evidence of Elies loss of faith, is while he questions God during the selection process. This process is concerned with separating the young, strong, and healthy Jews, from the old, weak, sickly, and/or infants. The Jews were separated from their loved ones who were immediately sent to the crematory or burned in large fire pits.

Elie says goodbye to his mother and sister, unknowing that it will be the last time that he will ever see them again. Many of his fellow Jews began to pray and recite the Kaddish, a Jewish prayer for the dead, with hopes to console their own grievances for the loss they had suffered. However, Elie questions, “Why should I bless His name? The Eternal, Lord of the Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank Him for?”(31) Elie witnesses a load of children being dumped into a pit of flames which he labels as the “Angel of Death,” and at this point, the diminishing effects of the first night of camp life are already taking a toll on Elies religious faith and personal self-worth. The final deterioration of Elies idea of God, where he renounces all belief in His existence, is during the funeral of 3 Jewish males who were hanged the day before. One of whom was a child, so mere in weight, whom struggle.

Night By Elie Wiesel

Although Night is not necessarily a memoir–as discussed in the “Overall
Analysis and Themes” section–I will often refer to it as a memoir, since
that is the genre which closest approaches the mixture of testimony, deposition
and emotional truth-telling that is in Night. Finally: it is clear that Eliezer
is meant to serve, to a great extent, as the author Elie Weisel’s surrogate and
representative. With alterations of minor details, what happens to Eliezer is
what happened to Weisel himself during the Holocaust. Please bear in mind,
however, that there is a difference between the persona of Night’s narrator,
Eliezer, and that of the author, Elie Weisel. Night is narrated by Eliezer, a
Hungarian Jewish teenager. At the book’s opening, Eliezer is studying the
Cabbala, Jewish mysticism. His instruction is cut short, however, when his
teacher, Moche the Beadle, is deported. In a few months, Moche returns, telling
a horrifying tale. The Gestapo (German secret police) had taken charge of his
train, led everybody into the woods, and systematically butchered them. Nobody
believes Moche, who is taken for a lunatic. In the spring of 1944, the Nazis
occupy Hungary. Not long afterwards, after a series of increasingly repressive
measures are passed, the Jews of Eliezer’s town are herded onto cattle cars. A
nightmarish journey ensues: after days and nights crammed into the car,
exhausted and near starvation, the passengers arrive at Birkenau, the gateway to
Auschwitz. On Eliezer’s arrival in Birkenau, he and his father are separated
from his mother and sisters, whom they never see again. They soon endure the
first of many “selections” that will occur throughout the memoir: the
Jews are evaluated, to determine whether they should be killed immediately or
put to work. Eliezer and his father seem to pass the evaluation, but before they
are brought to the prisoners’ barracks, they stumble upon the open-pit furnaces
where the Nazis are burning babies by the truckload. The Jewish arrivals are
stripped, shaved, and disinfected; throughout, their captors treat them with
almost unimaginable cruelty. Eventually, they are marched from Birkenau to the
main camp, Auschwitz itself, and eventually arrive in Buna, a work camp where
Eliezer is put to work in an electrical-fittings factory. Under slave-labor
conditions, severely malnourished and decimated by the frequent
“selections,” the Jews take solace in caring for each other, in
religion, and in Zionism. But with the conditions of the camps, and the ever-
present danger of death, many of the prisoners themselves begin to slide into
cruelty, concerned only with personal survival: sons begin to abandon and abuse
their fathers. Eliezer himself begins to lose his humanity, and his faith. After
months in the camp, Eliezer–poorly clothed in the freezing cold–undergoes an
operation for a foot injury. While he is in the infirmary, however, the Nazis
decide to evacuate the camp because the Russians are advancing, and are on the
verge of liberating Buna. In the middle of a snowstorm, the prisoners begin a
death march, forced to run for more than 50 miles to the Gleiwitz concentration
camp; many die of exposure and exhaustion. At Gleiwitz, the prisoners are herded
into cattle cars once again. There is another deadly journey: 100 Jews board the
car, but only twelve remain alive by trip’s end. Throughout the ordeal, Eliezer
and his father have kept each other alive through mutual concern: but now, in
Buchenwald, Eliezer’s father dies. Eliezer survives in Buchenwald, an empty
shell of a man, until April 11, 1945, when the American army liberates the camp.


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