essay on Night by Elie Wiesel
Night by Elie Wiesel is a testimony of the Jewish Holocaust in Nazi Germany. Set in Hungary, where the Wiesel family was from, to Poland and Germany, this story is an epic that spans Europe. The time was before, during, and shortly after WWII. Wiesel was a Jew caught up in Hitler’s deadly web. The main theme of this book is never to forget the atrocities that men are capable of committing. Wiesel wrote “Never shall I forget those things, even if I was condemned to live as long as God Himself” (34). Wiesel lost not only his innocence in Auschwitz and Buchenwald, but his family as well. His father remained with him throughout his journey, until tragically a few weeks before liberation his father died. Wiesel recounted the impact the Holocaust had on his family. The major change in Wiesel occurred on the night he arrived in Auschwitz. He not only lost his family and community, Wiesel lost his God. Elie Wiesel wanted the world to know his experiences, so the Holocaust would never happen again.
Elie Wiesel knew he would never forget, but wanted to spread the word so the whole world would never forget. Even though many survivors like Wiesel have told their stories, many still refute the Holocaust ever occurred. Even after the evidence given by eyewitnesses, Nazi records, and other surviving documents, “Today, there are anti-Semites in Germany, France, and even the United States who tell the world that the ‘story’ of six million assassinated Jews is nothing but a hoax” (Wiesel xii). Throughout the book, Wiesel talks about “I will never forget” (34, 95, 106). The memories of Moshe the Beadle, the expulsion and forced deportation to Poland, and the horrors of the concentration camps will never be forgotten by Wiesel. The vivid descriptions of his father’s illness and malnutrition that led to death, and the honest relief that he no longer had to care for his father will never be forgotten by Wiesel, or anybody that reads Night. Not only did Wiesel not forget, he wrote his experiences down so no one will forget the Holocaust.
The second theme of this book was Wiesel’s loss of faith. Before WWII, Wiesel was a devout Hassidic Jew. Wiesel and his family were very devout. Wiesel writes at thirteen “By day I studied the Talmud and by night I would run to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple” (3). Upon arrival at the ghetto, before being transferred to Auschwitz, the family prayed “Oh God, Master of the Universe, in infinite compassion, have mercy on us…” (Wiesel 20). Throughout the journey to Auschwitz, Wiesel prayed and believed to the last moment that his faith was correct. The belief that the Wiesel family had was the foundation of the family. Being Hassidic Jews was the family’s identity, way of life, and salvation.
Wiesel’s arrival at Auschwitz changed everything about his beliefs in God. Wiesel passionately describes “Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes” (34). Even Moshe the Beadle lost faith after coming back from a deportation train (Wiesel 7). This loss of faith came about due to the overwhelming violence and atrocities committed at the camps. Where is God? Why is he letting His people be slaughtered? Does God exist? All of these questions and more were being asked by not just Wiesel, but all Jews in Nazi occupied Europe. If God existed, why did he not answer the prayers of the devout? Wiesel still carries the pain over loss of his religion. Taking away a man’s faith is sometimes worse than murdering the man.
Wiesel’s story was a riveting story about his experience during the Holocaust. His goal in writing this book was to never forget, and never allow the world to forget the six million Jews that perished in the Holocaust. Like many other survivors, never forget is Wiesel’s motto. His loss of faith upon his arrival at Auschwitz was a life altering decision. More than his family was murdered; his faith was taken away as well. This book is a must read for everyone, so everyone will remember.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006.