NIGHT Introduction The Holocaust was the attempt by the Nazi regime to systematically exterminate the European Jewish race during World War II. The Holocaust was a reference to the murder of around six million Jews and other minority groups such as homosexuals, gypsies and the disabled (Wiesel, 2008). In the 1930’s the Jewish population in Romania was around half a million. However, during World War II most of those Jews sent to the labour barracks or death camps (Wiesel, 2008). Set the scene of the reader, what is it about?
Night by Elie Wiesel is about his experiences in the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944 to 1945, at the height of the Holocaust and toward the end of the Second World War. It is a terrifying account of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a naive young boy into an agonized witness of the death of his family, his innocence and the death and loss of faith in his God (Wiesel, 2008). The Jews of Sighet, Romania, remained in denial that anything awful would happen to them.
Elie, a 15-year-old boy was forced into the Sighet ghetto and then onto the transport which arrived at Auschwitz, where the Jews were powerless to do anything to save themselves (Wiesel, 2008). “I wanted to show the end, the finality of the event. Everything came to an end—man, history, literature, religion, God. There was nothing left. And yet we begin again with night” (Wiesel, 2008). In the first page (p. 20) Elie describes the Germans as pleasant. How does he come to this conclusion?
To what purpose would the Germans pretend to be likeable to the Jewish community? When the Germans first arrived in Sighet, they were friendly and pleasant, “their attitutude toward their hosts was distant, but polite. They never demanded the impossible, made no unpleasant comments, and even smiled occasionally at the mistress of the house”(Wiesel, 2008). It appeared that the Germans wanted to gain the trust of the Jewish community to maintain the peace within the community before turning on them (Wiesel, 2008).
While everyone was packed in the ghetto waiting for news of what was happening, Elie’s father returned from a meeting and told those gathered that they were being deported. Elie and his family were packed into cattle cars and taken to Auschwitz. As the train arrived, they saw smoke rising from chimneys and were assailed by the horrific smell of burning flesh (Wiesel, 2008). Describe what Elie calls the ‘death race’? The Death Race was the race by the Germans to kill as many Jews as they could.
They wanted to wipe out the entire Jewish race to develop a German ‘master race’ (Wiesel, 2008). The Germans were pushing the Jewish community towards death to see who survived. The Passover ended, “the curtain rose” (Wiesel, 2008) and the Germans “arrested the leaders of the Jewish community” (Wiesel, 2008). Elie states, “from that moment, everything happened very quickly. The race toward death had begun” (Wiesel, 2008). It was at first a slow progression from limiting the rights of the Jewish people, to wearing the Star of David and then to the attempted extermination.
The Germans then began a race to kill the Jews as quickly as they could (Wiesel, 2008). Why do you think the prisoner told Elie and his father to lie about their ages? As they arrived at Auschwitz, a prisoner told Elie and his father to lie about their age in order to avoid the crematorium (Wiesel, 2008). Those deemed fit to work were sent to the labour barracks, whereas children and the elderly were sent to the gas chambers (Wiesel, 2008). In the first paragraph of chapter 3 Elie refers to the loss of the last of their illusions, what illusions might he be referring to?
Elie refers to the loss of the last of their illusions because the Jews thought that, while overcrowded, they would remain safe in the Ghetto until the end of the war, until “the arrival of the Red Army” (Wiesel, 2008). They thought the Russian Army would save them. This is the meaning of the illusion, it was technically all a dream as Elie states, “the cherished objects we brought with us this far were left behind in the train, and with them, at last our illusions” (Wiesel, 2008). Conclusion The Holocaust is “a history of enduring horror and sorrow” (Wiesel, 2008).
Never could anyone imagine such evil, such a horrific event happening in our world. This innocent young boy witnessed the depths of human cruelty and the heights of human disgrace (Wiesel, 2008). This unimaginable historic event breached a large number of articles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, commencing at Article 1 which states that “all human being are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (United Nations, 2013). The inmates of the concentration camps had their freedom, dignity and rights were taken away.
Other Articles breached were 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, 25, 26 and 28. This novel outlines “the ever-increasing horrors that Elie endured, the loss of his family and his struggle to survive in a world that stripped him of humanity, dignity and faith” (Wiesel, 2008). Never will Elie Wiesel forget that horrific and barbaric experience he encounted as a 15 year old boy, watching people murdered and the smell of burning flesh and the murder of members of his family. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky” (Wiesel, 2008), “never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God himself. Never” (Wiesel, 2008). References * Wiesel, E, 2008. Night. 1st ed. London: Penguin Books Ltd * United Nations. 2013. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www. un. org/en/documents/udhr/index. shtml. [Accessed 20 February 13]