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Night: A Book of the Holocaust by Elie Wiesel

I recently re-read a book by Elie Wiesel, titled "Night". It's a little book--only 115 pages. Oh, but such a powerful book! I can't forget the images it brought to my mind. Elie Wiesel won the Nobel Prize in 1986, not for literature, surprisingly, but for Peace.

"Night" by Elie Wiesel, is a true story of the author, a Holocaust survivor. He was fifteen when he and his father were sent to the camps. He tells his story so well, with such a true and powerful voice. It's an unforgettable story.


"Night" is the right title for this book.

Elie Wiesel and his family lived in Transylvania, in a beautiful little town near the border of Romania. It was a bucolic, peaceful place with a strong contigent of Jewish families living there. Elie was a scholar, a Talmudic scholar. He originally wrote this book in Yiddish.

Elie tells of how the Jewish people of the town refused to believe that they were at risk, even though a foreign national Jew from the town was transported to a camp, escaped, and came back to tell everyone of the Jewish community to flee what was coming.

Elie begged his father to flee to Zion (Israel), which was a newly created country at that time.

His father refused, saying, "What? It's 1945. How much longer can this war last? I listen to the BBC broadcasts and Germany is losing the war. They can't be bothered by a little town way out here in Middle Europe."

His father's attitude was typical of the attitude of most of the Jewish people in the town. They had proceeded thus far mostly unmolested during the Occupation. Why flee? Why leave their homes and lives and businesses behind, in a (probably unnecessary) panic?

It was still daylight, then.

Everybody heard the stories. Nobody could believe them. It seemed so insane. How could anybody do this, this wholesale murder, wholesale torture? It seemed a piece of craziness that surely must be exaggerated.

Well, it wasn't too long after that the people found out.

First, they were relocated to a ghetto and isolated from the non-Jewish residents. They had to wear the yellow stars. They thought, "It's not so bad here, we can live." They sort of liked living in an exclusively Jewish community. It gave them a feeling of solidarity, and there was no one to spit on them for being Jewish--they were ALL Jewish.

Then, they were sent to a camp. They were told to bring food and changes of clothes, and to give up all their valuables. It was now illegal for a Jewish person to own gold or jewelry, or anything valuable, and if anything valuable was found on a Jewish person, that person would be shot.

They boarded the cattle cars, 80 persons to one cattle freight car. The men and boys were also separated at this time from the women and girls. Elie's family was separated--he and his father went in one car, his mother and sisters in another, and they didn't know what happened to each other. Their sufferings on the cattle car were frightful. They were so crowded; there was so little air. Their food ran out quickly; from that they suffered; but they suffered even more from lack of water, and utter lack of sanitary facilities. The cars paused periodically so they could toss out the dead bodies.

They came to the camps, where they were beaten, starved and forced to work.

Elie tells of being moved to a different camp. There were 100 person per car, they were so skinny now. When they got to the destination (Auschwitz), there were twelve people left. Twelve people, out of the hundred that boarded the car!

He also tells of his arrival at the first camp. He came so near death, right from the outset! The new inductees were compelled to march toward a burning ditch. He came within four feet of this ditch of flames, and discovered that the Nazis were pitching all the children, live, into this ditch of flames, to be burned to death. Had it not been for a veteran prisoner, who told him to lie about his age, and say he was eighteen, he might also have been flung into the ditch.

Elie says at this time, seeing the babies flung into the burning ditch, he lost God.

It was "Night" now. The sun had gone out for the Jews.

Nation Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC
Nation Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC | Source

Elie Wiesel did survive. He became a journalist in Paris after the war. He went on to write over 50 books, the most notable of them being "Night", the true story of the holocaust. He was awarded the United States Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor, and honorary knighthood of the British Empire, and, in 1986, the Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1976, he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University.

This is part of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

"I have tried to keep the memory alive, because if we forget,we are accomplices...How naïve we were. The world did know, and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim....Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must become the center of the universe.

Human rights are being violated on every continent. More people are oppressed than free. How can one not be sensitive to their plight?

We don't want "Night" to fall again, for any class of people.



Comments 48 comments

yep 2 years ago

The Holocaust definitely happened, except, Elie Wiesel did not actually witness it.


dajah 3 years ago

this book is amazing imreally interest on this book we raed thi in class and now we have to a project so .....yeah


jewsAREniceNOTcruel 3 years ago

this thing is scary, sad :

:O i am really angry about hitler!


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks for the comment, Drej. It's a topic that's horrible, completely horrible, and very compelling. The pictures got to me so much I cried and cried. The children's corpses were skeletal! I can't stand the thought of starving children. The pictures of the bodies piled up and up, piles and piles and piles of naked bodies that were practically skeletons! How those people suffered! It tears at my heart. How could we let that happen? That tears at my heart, too.

I wish I could go back in time and rescue all those people, and give them lots and lots of good wholesome food.


drej2522 profile image

drej2522 5 years ago from Augusta, GA

Great article...it really reminds us of how evil and vile the Nazis were toward the innocent Jewish population. It's a time period that most history books gloss over.

I just completed a term paper on the mindset of Nazi Germany, and I'm glad that the research is over. Diving into the minds of 1940s Germany is painfully upsetting. It is difficult to read about how easy it is to hate.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, S. and Q. for your comments. I thought perhaps you were overstating the case to some degree, S., and I'm glad it those issues with homeless children in Florida and Gypsies in France weren't what they appeared to be in the sensational press, and I'm glad for Q to help us set the record straight.

There are many places in the world, however, like Nigeria, the Sudan, sub-Sahara Africa, Haiti...many places where "human lives are endangered and human dignity is in jeopardy..." Some of those places are also in urban America, it makes me sad to say.


Quilligrapher profile image

Quilligrapher 5 years ago from New York

Paradise, the Washington Post reports members of the Food Not Bombs organization were NOT arrested for feeding poor children in Orlando Florida. They were arrested for intentionally violating a city ordinance dealing with the feeding of the homeless in public parks. Secondly, the BBC reports that France has been deporting Romanian and Bulgarian gypsies because they have no work permits and are living in squalid conditions. Those who volunteer to leave receive 300 euros (£246; $384) and an additional 100 euros for each child. The President of Romania announced Romanian citizens have the right to travel unrestricted within the EU but he was prepared to send police to France to help implement the repatriation process.

France repatriated some 10,000 gypsies last year and other European countries, including Germany, Italy, Denmark and Sweden pursued similar policies.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11020429

Neither of these incidents has anything to do with anti-Semitism.

Q.


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

I really hate to say this, but it looks like we're heading to repeat history, but on a far more vast scale. Many disturbing trends are starting to emerge, such as the arrest of 50 people feeding poor children in Orlando Florida and police taking food out of the mouths of children. At least two raw videos show them in the act. Last year it was the mass deportation of gypsies in France, a group the Nazis attacked. There seems to be a rising tide of Antisemitism occurring again.


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

I really hate to say this, but it looks like we're heading to repeat history, but on a far more vast scale. Many disturbing trends are starting to emerge, such as the arrest of 50 people feeding poor children in Orlando Florida and police taking food out of the mouths of children. At least two raw videos show them in the act. Last year it was the mass deportation of gypsies in France, a group the Nazis attacked. There seems to be a rising tide of Antisemitism occurring again.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, Green Art. I'm so impressed that you worked at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center. The survivors have so much courage, so much heart, to move forward after such a shocking nightmare, such terrible ordeals. My heart goes out to them, and to all the lost victims of the Holocaust.


Green Art profile image

Green Art 5 years ago

In the late 1970s I worked at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston as a C.N.A. and Occupational Therapy Aide. I met the most wonderful people there. Some of them had the number tattoos on their arms, survived the camps and talked about family members lost during the Holocaust.

One resident in her eighties at the time told me that the Nazi's came to her family farm one day. She was in the pasture nearby with the cows and hid behind a cow. The Nazi's took her parents and she never saw them again. She made it to the United States somehow where our paths eventually crossed.

Thank you so much for writing this hub. Real people died during this nightmare in time and few lived to tell about it. It's so important to be a voice for those who can no longer speak.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you for the comment, rockinmagic. Oh, yes, I even knew someone that was in that state of denial. How they could refuse to believe it after seeing pics like these is something I'll never understand. But, to a certain segment of American, these folks still want Jews to be the bad guys instead of realize they were the victims of atrocities of the like the world had never seen.

I, like you, admire so much those brave souls who got through the horror somehow and came out the other side, to live peaceful and productive lives in the afterwards.


rockinmagic profile image

rockinmagic 5 years ago from Sacramento

What scares me most are these people (sic) who try to deny that the holocaust ever happened. They believe that if they spread the same audacious lie over and over again people will eventually start to believe it. To what purpose I don't know. It is however inspiring to read the stories of ordinary every day people who in the face of absolute horror were able to survive and go on. Those are the heroes we need to remember.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

It is very disturbing. I'll never in a million years, understand it. Thank you for the comment.


susannah42 profile image

susannah42 5 years ago from Florida

It is so hard to read and to think that human beings can do this to each other.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

...well this hub subject took my breath away and left me speechless. I will be posting your story and testimonial to my Facebook page with a direct link back here ....

You are a world class writer my friend and your hubs and subjects are among the best in the business and worthy of any inclusion to any virtual library in this cyber universe of ours ....HAPPY CANADA day from lake erie and the time is 11:29 am


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Oh, yes! A lot of those stories didn't get told until much later, years later. The liberated people needed much time to heal, and didn't want to talk about what went on. It was so brutal, so devastating, that many, many stories remained untold--either because the person didn't survive, or because the survivor had to try to put it behind him/her, in order to move on, heal up, have some kind of life afterwards.

My hat remains pernamently off to those who survived, to come to America, and build a new life. God bless those folks--they have more heart, more courage, than I could believe possible for a human being to possess.


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 5 years ago

I agree with you, I think the saddest is to see videos of the liberated Jewish, heartbreaking. and the children..... And there are millions of stories!


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Yes, ahorseback, I understand. I thought to myself, "You know, it would have been better for those poor folk to die resisting, rather than get on the train." But then, they really didn't know--if they did, it might have been possible to overwhelm the Nazis by sheer numbers and not go to the death camps. I really also think the Jews were so socialized to be peaceful and orderly and to obey those in authority; that conditioning was fatal to them.


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 5 years ago

Paradise , I didn't intend to sound like I didn't understand the Jewish being herded like sheep, only that they outnumbered their captors by hundreds to one. I know it's niave to think they could have liberated themselves, because they truly had no clue , and as well the human nature involved in the desparation, the camp Kapas, who assisted in killing of their own people ! I truly feel for the Jewish today . I do ! And this memory must be kept alive forever ....:-}


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, Gregas and Quill for your comments.

Gragas: You brought up an interesting point. I've often thought that perhaps I would not have had the courage to go against that regime, were I a German citizen of that period. It could very well cost one's life, AND the lives of one's family. The consequences of "bucking the system" were so VERY dire, that I can't quite blame the German citizens for attempting to look the other way. It would be even worse to be a German soldier, then. I don't believe I could live with myself, either during or after.

Q: What you say is true. Elie Wiesel said it in his book, too. Even when someone came back from the camps, the Jewish community didn't believe him.


Quilligrapher profile image

Quilligrapher 5 years ago from New York

Paradise7, when you said “...I'm afraid those poor Jewish folk just simply couldn't believe it until it was too late to put up any effective resistance”, I was reminded of the research for my hub about Irena Sendler. She frequently had to beg Jewish parents to let her sneak their children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. There was widespread denial within the Jewish community that the death camp rumors were true. Q.


gregas profile image

gregas 5 years ago from Corona, California.

Hi P7, I too feel for all those people that suffered and died. I also feel for the young German soldiers that were "forced" to perform those horrific acts. If they lived through the war which was bad enough, they then had to live with what they did against their will. Yet nobody ever mentions that side of this story. Not all German soldiers were cold blooded killers. They did what they were told or die like they saw a lot of their comrads die because they didn't do what they were "ordred" to do. Can you imagine having been one of these soldiers and remembering the things you did. How many times would you think back and feel that you yourself might have been able to stop it. Just another side of this to think about. No matter how much they brainwash you or threaten you, you will still remember the horror. Still a great hub. Greg


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, Dream on and Ahorseback, for your comments.

Dream On, I know this information and the images here are very upsetting. What can be inspiring is the story of Elie Wiesel, a survivor who went on to win the Nobel Peace prize amongst many other honors and become a valued Professor and Writer. I feel I can't complain of any minor flaws in MY life, compared to what this hero went through, and went on to become such a treasured human being whose contributions to society and humanity are ongoing.

Ahorseback--yes, Viligance. I worked in a cube in an office next to a man who, at the 9/11 incident, blamed it on the Jews. He was one of those who think there's some kind of Jewish conspiracy going on and who is massively Anit-Semitic. I was shocked to hear such nonsense, such vituperative and insidious nonsense, coming from the lips of a supposed Christian. I took him right up short on it, and one of our cubicle companions started talking about going to the JCC (Jewish Community Center) and the activities there. Between the two of us, we shut this man right up. I'm afraid we didn't change his mind, though. He still thinks that way.

And as far as being like sheep...I'm afraid those poor Jewish folk just simply couldn't believe it until it was too late to put up any effective resistence. You have to remember, the Nazis had people utterly cowed. Ordinary citizens, both Jewish and Gentile, were afraid of these men patrolling with machine guns everywhere.


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 5 years ago

Paradise , Vigilance....My Father talked often about the horrors of liberating camps during and after the war. And he was liberal in discribing those horrors. One little known fact. German civilians and town officials were force marched through some of these places after V- day. As he explained , he would never understand "a people who would proceed into the lines awaiting trains and death like sheep"! But then , We too are guilty of this in many ways, the viilance of our political leadership here and now , for instance! We must never forget , and any time I hear someone say , "I dont believe it ever happened" , I want to slap them silly! Great hub and Never Forget!....:-}Hugs.


DREAM ON profile image

DREAM ON 5 years ago

To see such horror and know that so many lives were lost.I feel such sadness and such an uneasy feeling that I hope will never go away.I always want to have a spot deep im my heart for all those that were involved.By the fate of God it could have been me if I was born at a different time or race.I can only think that such cruelty will never happen again for anyone ever to see.Very informative and so moving your hub makes me want to read more.I will have to wait since I can only take so much.God bless all the people in the world so we can live out our life in peace and safety.Some things have to be said and unfortunately this is one of them.I see every person as an individual and wonderful.Thanks again for sharing and making me aware.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Scarytaff, I do not know why, I have never figured it out. All the Jewish people I know (and I live in Jewish neighborhood, though I'm not Jewish) are regular people. Very good citizens. They believe in education and are hard-working and honest people. I never found anything at all about these people that would explain the irrational predjudice and persecution they have suffered in Germany and elsewhere. It seems they are so peaceful they make an easy target. They are so civilized that brutish regimes make them a scapegoat for all the things wrong with the country.

Their form of worship is more a search for enlightenment than anything else, and they have a very beautiful sevice on the Sabbath. They do nothing to offend anyone, they are regular people. They live, love, laugh, get married; they go to work or school or run their businesses. There is just nothing, no reason in this world. I'll never, ever, ever, understand it.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, Quillagrapher. We've all said: Never again. But I'm so afraid that in far flung places in the world, man's inhumanity to man hasn't ceased with the end of the horror of the Holocaust...I'm afraid there are many more injustices, many more persecutions of the innocent, that I do not know of, and those I do, I do not know how to stop them, to help the innocent.


scarytaff profile image

scarytaff 5 years ago from South Wales

What was the reason for this all embracing hatred of Jews? Why the single mindedness of the Nazis to wipe out an entire race of people? Why the horrific cruelty? Why??


Quilligrapher profile image

Quilligrapher 5 years ago from New York

The sheer inhumanity must never be forgotten. You do the world a service by keeping the memory alive. Q.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Sheila, thank you for the comment, and I simply couldn't agree more.


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 5 years ago

Whenever I read books about the holocaust and the war, I am horrified by the suffering of the prisoners and equally horrified that there were so many people willing to take part in the tortures. What is wrong with people who treat others that way? Who can see such suffering and inflict more? The Jews died - the monsters lived.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, syzygy, Chat, Gypsy Rose, and Cenny for your very kind comments. It is such a disturbing story--that people could be so very inhumane to other people. Yet it happens, and keeps happening...


CennyWenny profile image

CennyWenny 5 years ago from Washington

"Night" is a book that has a huge impact on the reader, I finished it in one sitting. Great Hub on a tough topic.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

I don't think anyone could ever forget something like that. Thank God my parents never had to go through it because they were Latvians. But they did have to flee their homeland in wartime and wound up in exile in DP (displaced persons) camps in Germany. Super hub. My heart goes out to all the people who had to live through such horror.


Chatkath profile image

Chatkath 5 years ago from California

Sobering write, it is hard to believe that these kinds of things actually happened and are still happening -- and for what? How can we look the other way?

Great hub and reminder that it truly did occur to so many innocent helpless victims and thank you for sharing this most disturbing story! Rated up.


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

This is such an important article that I cannot rate it high enough. It is very sadly true that the US is now doing such things around the world. They also rescued 1,600 Nazi war criminals out of Germany and placed them in the US, Canada and elsewhere. This may be part of the reason why this evil is reviving around the world. THIS MUST NOT NE FORGOTTEN! The Jews are far from the only victims of such heinous atrocities. Voted up.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Oh, so true, Anthea. Thank you for the comment.


Anthea Carson profile image

Anthea Carson 5 years ago from Colorado Springs

Excellent book, though very disturbing and sad, but showing the triumph of the human spirit even in the midst of such evil.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, Peter, for the comment. I know it does, and it makes me so sad.

I really do hope this will help, if even a little bit. The pictures are so gruesome; so shocking. It's hard to realize they are real. These were real people. This really did happen. These aren't still photos from a horror movie.

I don't want to forget these people, or sweep them under the rug as though they never existed, lived and breathed, went about their business, went to school or got married or went dancing, until...

The Holocaust.


PETER LUMETTA profile image

PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

Unfortunately we must keep reminding ourselves because it still happens every day, even now. Good job 7. I hope this will help. Peter


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you for the comment, Rebekah. I'm helping him to make sure we don't forget.


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 5 years ago from Tampa Bay

Great hub about a book everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. When I first read it, I had to put it down halfway through. It had such a profound effect on my life. I finished the book and read it again. What an incredible experience for Elie Wiesel. He is certainly alive to 'never let us forget'.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks for the comment, cheaptrick. I'm glad your father made it home. I'm glad Elie Wiesel made it through, too. I admire so much the people who managed to survive. It makes me feel I should appreciate the freedoms we have in this country more, and the people, like your father, who helped to make those freedoms possible.


cheaptrick profile image

cheaptrick 5 years ago from the bridge of sighs

Hi P.My father was a POW in a camp in Hungary.He always stopped when I asked about the Jews in that divided camp.I've never seen such a far away look on a persons face.Gret hub,thanks.

Dean


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you both, MC and Greg for your comments.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 5 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

"Never forget", I think is the saying. Compelling write.


gregas profile image

gregas 5 years ago from Corona, California.

Hi P7, Good hub. Well done for a sensetive subject. I am sensetive to that and I am German decent. I visited Europe a couple of years ago. 2 of the places that I visited that actually got to me. One was the Luxemburg Cemetary where Gen. Patton is buried with so many of our American soldiers and I could feel for them. And then I visited the Ann Frank House in Amsterdam where I I felt for the Jews and what they had endure. Then the cemetary came back to mind about all of those young boys and men and the fact that they died in a land so far away from their homes to try and end the horror that these people were having to live through. I have a hub that touches on this subject during my trip there. Good job. Greg

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