The impotence of language in the face of visceral horror should not be underestimated; words evade the tremulous pen. Authors revealing the sordid depths plumbed by mankind are wordsmiths of singular talent, who stare with unfaltering courage into the abyss.
Night, Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel's account of his experiences as a 15 year old boy during the Holocaust, is a memoir of prodigious power: his humanity shines from every page as he bears witness to the tragedy which befell the Jewish race at the hands of the Nazis. Wiesel was a Romanian-born Jew whose home town of Sighet was occupied by the Hungarians for most of the second world war. In May 1944, all the Jews in the area were forced into cattle wagons and transported to Auschwitz.
The concentration camp there shocks with its brutality and indifference to life, and to visit Auschwitz II-Birkenau – where each of the four crematoria attended to the daily slaughter of several thousand Jews – is to witness the void that remains when man abandons all morality. It is a scene of apocalyptic proportions: grotesque brick chimneys point their sombre fingers to the heavens, whilst all that remains of the majority of the wooden barracks are their ruined foundations. The rubble of a crematorium cowers under the weight of its own atrocities, and a brittle wind scours the air. The anguish of the past is still snagged on the barbed wire, and a terrible misery stagnates over the camp, its spores infiltrating the hearts of visitors in the 21st century. The desolation is overwhelming.
A person's name is subliminally bound up in the fabric of their existence: it tethers them to the past and anticipates their future remembrance. When seeking to expunge every vestige of Jewish identity from Europe, the Nazis were not content to uproot each and every Jew, rob them of their worldly possessions, shave their hair and clothe them in rags: the ultimate affront to their identity was the replacing of every prisoner's name with a number. This was integral to the Nazis' desire to dehumanise the Jews: a number on a list carries far fewer intimate human connotations than a name. In Night, Wiesel and the other inmates were "told to roll up our left sleeves and file past the table. The three 'veteran' prisoners, needles in hands, tattooed numbers on our left arms. I became A-7713. From then on, I had no other name."
Wiesel's prose is quietly measured and economical, for florid exaggeration would not befit this subject. Yet, at times, his descriptions are so striking as to be breathtaking in their pungent precision. He writes through the eyes of an adolescent plunged into an unprecedented moral hinterland, and his loss of innocence is felt keenly by the reader. His identity was strained under such conditions: "The student of Talmud, the child I was, had been consumed by the flames. All that was left was a shape that resembled me. My soul had been invaded – and devoured – by a black flame."
Hunger was an immense force in the camps, eroding identities and sculpting them into different forms; it could compel a man of principle to steal or fight, whilst thoughts of food tormented prisoners' dreams. Wiesel recalled one inmate whose starvation drove him to approach two untended cauldrons of soup on a suicidal mission, which resulted in his being shot by a guard. The victim fell to the floor writhing, "his face stained by the soup." Wiesel asserted that his very existence was contingent on his next meal: "I was nothing but a body. Perhaps even less: a famished stomach. The stomach alone was measuring time."
Yet despite all the Nazis' monstrous attempts to efface the Jewish identity, their victims's indomitable spirit could not be extinguished. Wallowing in memories was a source of incomparable solace to many, whilst others clung tenaciously to their faith. This was not true of all, but Wiesel befriended two brothers with whom he would "sometimes hum melodies evoking the gentle waters of the Jordan River and the majestic sanctity of Jerusalem." Thus, his identity was besieged but not conquered: it became a taut membrane stretched across the soul.
The atrocities committed by the Nazis might have strangled hope and joy, but the flame of life refused to perish. Even in Wiesel's darkest hours on the death march away from Auschwitz, when his mind was "numb with indifference", his survival instinct kicked in. He recognised that if he slept in the icy night, he would not wake up: "Something in me rebelled against that death. Death which was settling in all around me, silently, gently. It would seize upon a sleeping person, steal into him and devour him bit by bit." This resilience, alloyed with pure chance, meant that Wiesel not only preserved his own identity, but lived on to preserve the identity of his race in his writing.
Night is profoundly necessary reading, not only because it provides a chilling insight into the uniquely horrendous countenance and manifestation of the Nazis's virulent anti-Semitism, but also, as Wiesel observed: "To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time."
Why is the Holocaust Still Relevant Today in Wiesel's Night Essay
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The Holocaust is over and has been for about sixty years, so why are we still talking about it? Why is it still relevant in our world today? The world should have learned from its mistakes, but the sad part is that we did not. No, Hitler is no longer killing millions of innocent men, women, and children, but we are still just still just as cruel only in different ways. Night is Elie Wiesel’s factual account of his experiences in the holocaust. He brings us to a world in which not many people want to go. He tells us the true story of what really happened in Nazi concentration camps. Elie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor chooses to tell his story and begins to teach an entire generation the dangers of ignorance and hatred. Just by telling…show more content…
Wiesel wants to show people how awful these camps were and how basically the whole world new about it, but they did not do anything to stop it because it was not them who it was happening to, so they did not think that it was a problem. You might wonder how the deaths of eleven million people could go unnoticed and why no one spoke up. This proves the ignorance of others. People knew what was going on, they just chose not to do anything about it because it was not happening to them. “First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communist and I did not speak out- because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionist and I did not speak out- because I was no not a trade unionist. Then they came for me- and by then there was no one left to speak out for me” (Poem Pastor Niemoller). This poem proves that no one spoke out for others because it was not them who it was happening to. Wiesel wants to educated people so they will not only care about them selves, but they will care enough other people to stop the hatred that might be happening to others. He wants to show people that if it were you, then you would hope that someone would speak out for you and maybe make a difference. We should now understand why Wiesel wrote Night. He does not want this to ever happen again. He does not want anyone to go through the brutality that he and many others had to go through. We