The Holocaust in Night by Ellie Wiesel


No name, no identity, no hope: this is the Holocaust. “Night” is an autobiography by Elie Wiesel about his times in the Nazi concentration camps from 1940 - 1945. It was published in Yiddish in 1958, and translated into English in 2006. Elie Wiesel and the Jews were deported to Auschwitz where they were murdered, starved, and forced to work. Elie and his father are separated from the rest of his family. They go through traumatic, nightmarish experiences, but Elie survived the Holocaust and wrote to speak for everyone who died. Elie and the other Jews’ mindsets shifted from ambition for the future to the point of where there is no hope, fear, or care. 

Before the deportation, Elie and the other Jews lived holy lives. Before the Nazi occupation, Elie would spend his time in prayer. “By day I studied Talmud and by night I would run to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple'' (Wiesel 3). Elie could have studied with Moishe the Beadle to lead a holy, uplifting life. “The shopkeepers were doing good business, the students lived among their books, and the children played in the streets'' (Wiesel 6). “My father took care of his business and the community…. My mother was beginning to think it was high time to find an appropriate match for Hilda''  (Wiesel 8). Life was safe and reassuring. Elie’s family started encouraging plans for the future.  Before the Germans invaded, everyone was leading favorable, healthy lifestyles, and there was plenty of kindness and love.

Stripped of their rights and shipped to Auschwitz, Elie and the Jews were shocked at how cruel the Germans had become. “...I did see this, with my own eyes… children thrown into the flames” (Wiesel 32). The Jews were startled by the crematoriums where babies were being burned alive and by their indistinguishable smell of burning flesh. The Nazis were so evil and sadistic that they had the Jews to disintegrate their own families. “He told us that having been chosen because of his strength, he had been forced to place his own father’s body unto the furnace” (Wiesel 35). Scared, hungry and tired, the Jews were being forced to work as slaves. “Work or crematorium - the choice is yours” (Wiesel 39). Furthermore, the Jews were awed by the inhumane practices that the Germans had made.

Prior to liberation, the prisoners were numb from the pain and suffering the Nazis implemented. After enduring all of the torture, Elie and the Jews saw the crematorium as a regular, normal part of life. “It no longer impressed us. It barely drew our attention” (Wiesel 104). Elie thought that burning alive in the crematorium would even be easier than staying alive. Elie finally snapped when his father died and life became completely empty and meaningless. “Since my father’s death, nothing mattered to me anymore” (Wiesel 113). “From time to time, I would dream. But only about soup, an extra ration of soup” (Wiesel 113). The prisoners are completely agonized by everything they experienced that all they care about is a meal. Between the selections, the long run, and the train cars, the prisoners lose their sense of humanity to mental anguish.

The experiences in the Holocaust change the Jew’s motivated, hopeful mindset to the point of where there is no feeling or hope. Prior to the deportation, Elie has studies to take to deepen his faith while the rest of Sighet has plans for the future. Upon arriving at the camps, the Jews are appalled by the atrocious acts of the Nazis. The Jewish prisoners, after years of working, torture, and death, finally lose their hope, giving into despair. Everything was permanent; everything was temporary; everything is gone.

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