Wajdan FaheemMr. ConnochieCHC2D0November 5, 2017Night History EssayThroughout time, Jewish communities have been treated with immense hate and exclusion from other cultures as no one accepted their religion.
Before WWII, events like Kristallnacht demonstrated the despise for Jews that dwelled inside the general population of Germany when the Germans went to Jewish houses and stores to burn and destroy them. During the course of WWII, they were harassed, abused, tortured and ruined, as all of their business stocks and assets were taken away. During the expanse of this horrific battle, Jews were forced to live in designated areas known as concentration camps, where they had to overcome obstacles such as hunger, freezing temperatures, and the loss of precious family members.
These camps were used to fulfill Hitler’s intent to annihilate the Jewish population from the face of the planet and this dangerous idea was called “purify the country”. In total, there were about 25 of these camps built where 6 million Jews died, including 1.5 million children. Auschwitz was a camp which was responsible for 1 million deaths alone, and this is the camp where Elie Wiesel was first sent to endure the hatred of the Nazis. This camp changed the way Elie Wiesel viewed the world because he saw and experienced things that stayed with him forever. He was transformed into a new person who neglected his religion, failed to protect the one he held dear to him, and put his survival as his highest priority. Elie Wiesel pushed through this treacherous camp and lived to tell the tale and to provide us with information on the greatest mistake in history which should never be repeated again. Elie Wiesel’s transformation is due to many reasons, and one of them includes losing faith in God and neglecting his religion.
At the beginning of the book, he describes himself as a very pious and religious person who is engaged in the studies of Kabbalah. He explains this through the quote, “One day I asked my father to find me a master who could guide me in my studies of Kabbalah”. His way of thinking completely changed on the first day he arrived to the concentration camp where he was observing children being burned to the day his father died. He expresses his feelings about his faith through the line: Behind me, I heard the same man asking: ‘For God’s sake, where is God?’ And from within me, I heard a voice answer: ‘Where He is? This is where—hanging here from this gallows. This small segment of the book shows the dislike Elie has for God when he says the line, “Where is he? This is where—hanging from this gallows”. By using this line, “by using the line “Where He is? This is where—hanging here from this gallows” he explains how god is dead for him and there he is on the gallow just hanging and not doing anything.
He is also indicating that he no longer has affection and gratitude towards the almighty God. As the plot moves forward, he develops even more hate for his religion due to the influence of the people around him. When a man yells that god is no longer with them, this barries the idea into Elie’s mind that God no longer exists. He responds by saying, “I also have eyes and I see what is being done here. Where is God’s mercy? Where’s God?”. By saying “Where’s God?”, he is pointing out that God is no longer with them and has abandoned them in the state they are in now. He thinks that God is not giving them mercy, and they are getting punished for no reason. By neglecting his religion, Elie used God as his scapegoat to the problems that he encountered in his life.
Elie Wiesel’s failure to protect his family from the hands of Death, also played a crucial role in transforming him into a different person. At the beginning of the story, when his family entered Auschwitz, he states that his sisters and mother were taken away from him which left him and his father together. This split the family into two parts and left his sisters and mother vulnerable to sexual or physical attacks from the Germans. At that time he was still new to everything, so his innocence and lack of reality never made him realize that he will never set his gaze on them again. As the story moves forward, Elie loses the ability to care for his father and ends up blaming him for not defending himself properly. This incident takes place in Buna, where his father was physically tortured by Idek, and at this moment, Elie thought, “What’s more, if I felt anger at that moment, it was not directed at the Kapo but at my father. Why couldn’t he have avoided Idek’s wrath?”.
This moment is critical because it conveys the development Elie went through to the point where he could get angry at his father when he could have prevented Idek’s wrath himself. Also, he was happy that it was his father taking the blows and not him, but this also brought a chance to see if Elie would stand up for his father which he failed to do because he wasn’t up for the challenge. He wasn’t able to protect his family nor his own well-being and in the end it led to him being the only one left of his family. In order to ensure one would make it by and live through the Holocaust, many people put the majority of their focus on their own being and Elie Wiesel was not an exception. Events like the Holocaust are a test to see who is strong and to enforce the fact that the world is about the survival of the fittest. It’s times like these which drives ideas like abandoning your comrades and family to think only about oneself. Near the end of the book, Wiesel shows his loss of humanity, when he woke up the next day after he ran the “Death March”. As he woke up, he finds that his father is not there, so he set out to find him and when he did, instead of being grateful, he states, “Yet at the same time a thought crept into my mind: If only I didn’t find him! If only I were relieved of this responsibility, I could use all my strength to fight for my own survival, to take care only of myself”.
By using words such as, “my own survival” Elie makes the readers realize that he sees his father as a burden that might get in the way of his survival. He slowly struggles to maintain the bit of humanity that has not been stripped away from him yet. Later on after this incident, Wiesel encountered a prisoner who forced negative ideas into his head. This prisoner came up to him and started giving a lecture on how he should keep the food to himself and stop wasting it on his father who is nearly dead. This proves how it’s not just the mind of Elie but the environment around him, forcing him to dispose of his humanity and only care about himself. This inmate is reinforcing the whole concept of you should only care about themselves and don’t let other people decrease the chance of surviving.
Elie Wiesel had given into these thought and idea and lost his humanity for the sake of his own survival. Elie Wiesel provided insight on how the Germans treated the Jews in the concentration camps and how almost all the Jews were stripped of their identity, personality, and humanity. This incident in history allowed us as humans to learn from our mistakes that we have done in the past. Elie Wiesel used examples from his own traumatic experiences to provide accurate information to the world on how they were treated with cruelty. This emphasizes on how we should never forget the Holocaust and continue to pursue our history in relation to the “Never Forget” poem in the memoir. He explains this through the transformation he went through in the concentration camps as he started losing faith in his religion, put his survival before humanity, and lost his family.
Many didn’t survive, but the few that did live through this period never got a chance to open up about it because of the trauma the memories bring along with it. This memoir captivates the most gruesome experiences to tell to the world and tells the world what calamities they have brought upon their own kind. This book will forever be known in the hearts of all who read it and try to understand the heartbreaking message hidden behind the lines. Work CitedWiesel, Elie. Night.
United States of America: Hill and wang, 2006.