Nazi Deception and the Demoralization and Dehumanization of Eliezer and His Fellow Prisoners Essay
Night by Elie Wiesel is one of the most remarkable books of the twentieth century. The novel describes one of the most horrible periods in the history of humanity. Downing calls the novel “a story of shame” that “forces one to see oneself in a “fallen” state, the fall of humanity and all of civilization” (128).
Wiesel describes his ‘life’ in Auschwitz. This blunt description enables people to see the way Nazis confused, demoralized and killed innocent people. More so, the novel shows the way people were dehumanized.
Deception was one of the major tools used by Nazis to demoralize the prisoners. Thus, the very first words seen by the prisoners coming to Auschwitz (the inscription on the gates of the concentration camp) can be regarded as a kind of embodiment of Nazi’s strategies used to dehumanize the prisoners.
The prisoners of the Nazis little knew about their future and they were likely to deceive themselves. The prisoners never knew where they were taken or what was going to happen next.
However, it is important to note that Wiesel states that people tended to deceive themselves as when the first groups of Jews were taken away “it was rumoured that they were in Galicia, working, and even that they were content with their fate” (6).
Even when the teenager told the truth about the people who were taken away, no one believed him. Perhaps, it was easier to believe there was still hope.
Nazi also resorted to deceit which was, in fact, one of their most potent tools of demoralization and dehumanization.
Thus, the very first words the prisoners saw when they moved through the gates of Auschwitz could be regarded as the embodiment of Nazi’s strategy, i.e. deception. These words were: “Work makes you free” (Wiesel 40).
Therefore, the prisoners were given a hope that they were coming to a working camp. They still had slight hope that they could be free after they completed some amount of work.
Nazis claimed that there was a choice as they told the prisoners: “If you don’t [work] you will go straight to the chimney” (Wiesel 39). However, work had nothing to do with the prisoners who were doomed irrespective of their hard work.
Notably, the work itself was nothing more but a way of demoralization and dehumanization. The prisoners had to dig trenches or move heavy stones. This work was quite meaningless as the prisoners did not build anything.
The work at Nazi camps had another aim. The only meaning of the work fulfilled was to exhaust the prisoners, to destroy human beings and to create mere “famished stomachs” (Wiesel 52).
Of course, these creatures could not rise, they could not free themselves, they could not even escape. This was the major aim of Nazis. They wanted to control the crowd of semi-human beings.
On balance, it is possible to note that Nazis used deception to control prisoners who were doomed to die in concentration camps. The prisoners never knew what was to happen next.
They were given a false hope that work could make them free. In reality, this work turned them into wretched creatures who could only think of their basic needs without thinking of compassion or even family ties.
Wiesel describes this horrible deception which made him almost lose his faith in God and humanity.
Downing, Frederick L. Elie Wiesel: A Religious Biography. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2008. Print.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print.
The Relation between Eliezer and His Father in Night by Elie Wiesel Essay
Night by Elie Wiesel describes the author’s time at Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, where he was sent by the Nazis together with his father, named Chlomo, in 1944. Throughout the months of misery and tortures, Eliezer’s relations with his parent change. To the teenager, the declined and helpless grown-up man becomes a burden, which the son desperately wants to get rid of.
First, it is necessary to consider the narrator’s attitude to his father before they were driven to the concentration camp. At the age of thirteen, the boy would pray and study Talmud regularly. He did these things not only due to the tradition but also because of his inner noble impulse. His religious beliefs were crucial to him, despite his young age. He had a wish to study Kabbalah thoroughly. For this purpose, the youngster needed an experienced master, a teacher. Although Eliezer describes his father as reserved and unemotional at that time, the teenager asks him for help. According to Wiesel, “one day, I asked my father to find me a master who could guide me in my studies of Kabbalah” (1). It means that the teenager adored his father and deeply respected his opinion.
Not long before the end of the war, Eliezer’s family was deported to Polish ghettos. Soon after that, the Nazis sent them to Auschwitz, but, because of the hardships of the way, only Eliezer and his father arrived there alive. While moving there, for the boy, his father was still a kind of light in the dark. He explains that “the idea of dying, of ceasing to be, began to fascinate me… My father’s presence was the only thing that stopped me” (Wiesel 14). From this quote, one can easily see that the teenager desperately needed to have someone trustworthy beside him, someone unquestionably reliable, and someone to cling to.
However, the situation changed when the father fell ill at the concentration camp. Due to the harsh conditions, Chlomo’s body and soul got weak, and he became helpless. The man could not even get up on his feet. Then had almost nothing to eat. The author describes how his father gradually grew disabled and devoid of self-respect. The author recalls how “another doctor came to the block. However, my father would not get up. He knew that it was useless” (Wiesel, 130). It means that Chlomo gave up and understood perfectly well that he was doomed. The boy had to bring him food and water, communicate with the doctors, and became his father’s caregiver.
Seeing and experiencing all the hardships of the concentration camp, Eliezer loses his belief in God. His disrespect for humanity becomes overwhelming. In addition, the boy’s respectful attitude toward his father changes for disgust. He admits that “if only I could get rid of this dead weight… Immediately I felt ashamed of myself, ashamed forever” (Wieser 101). The parent, who used to be a man to protect and give life-important advice, becomes a sick stranger who needs constant care. Eliezer understands perfectly well that his father is going to die; that is why he sees no sense in keeping up the parent’s fragile and painful existence.
That is how the author’s attitude to and relations with his father change. At first, the parent is the one who can give help and support. But, when the circumstances become hard, the boy and the man change their roles. Instead of spending his teenage years in happiness and joy, Eliezer has to experience hardships and support his mortally sick father.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.
Understanding of God – “Night” by Elie Wiesel Essay
The Night by Elie Wiesel explores the painful experiences of the narrator (Elie) during the Holocaust. Elie had a deep connection with God in his childhood. The narrator studies the Torah and Cabala, attend the synagogue and prays until he weeps to reflect his deep faith and connection with God (Wiesel 3). Elie had never imagined his life without God.
However, actions of the Nazi make Elie lose his belief and faith in God (Grabois 1). It is important to note that the narrator struggles to keep his faith in God. This happened when Elie went to Auschwitz. He notes, “Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust” (Wiesel 34).
Elie started to wonder why innocent people would suffer while there was God. However, Elie never lost his faith in God completely. While at the camp, Elie noted that some men discussed God, sins, mysteries, and redemption (Sternlicht 29). These characters doubted God and His absolute power, but they never ceased to believe in His existence. Akiba Drumer says:
“God is testing us. He wants to see whether we are capable of overcoming our base instincts, of killing the Satan within ourselves. We have no right to despair. And if He punishes us mercilessly, it is a sign that He loves us that much more…” (Wiesel 45).
This encounter with Akiba Drumer helps Elie to maintain his belief in God throughout the Holocaust. However, Elie had to request Akiba Drummer to recite Kaddish for him. Elie reflects an inner struggle with the belief in God, “Blessed be God’s name? Why, but why would I bless Him? Every fiber in me rebelled….” (Wiesel 67-68). Elie provides several reasons why his belief in God is weak while he is in the concentration camp.
He believes that God is responsible for the massacre that humanity experiences at “Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna, and so many other factories of death” (Wiesel 67). Elie wonders how he could once again praise the name of God after the massacre (Donadio 1-2). The narrator says that he was no longer able to “lament or plead anything to God” (Wiesel 68). Elie’s struggle makes him change roles with God, “I was the accuser, God the accused” (Wiesel 68).
Elie realizes how he was alone without God or man in the world. His faith sank further. Although Elie questions the whole concept of faith in God, he never stops to ask questions that connect him with God. His anger reflects an inner struggle and deep sentiments for belief in God. Elie constantly refers to religious metaphors to show that he still believes in God (Devera 1-2).
However, Elie restores his faith in God, “My God, Lord of the Universe, give me the strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahou’s son has done” (Wiesel 91). Elie realizes that he is weak without strengths from God and asks for power and strengths from Him. The narrator cannot face the death of his father on his own, and he regrets that his father had no religious memorial. A prayer rose from Elie’s heart to God to show that Elie had not completely lost his belief in God. The narrator seeks help from God when he can no longer control himself. At the end of the novel, one can observe that Elie’s faith in God remains intact.
Devera, John. Eliezer’s struggle to maintain faith in God in Night, 2008. Web.
Donadio, Rachel. The Story of ‘Night’, 2008. Web.
Grabois, Andrew. Elie Wiesel and the Holocaust, 2008. Web.
Sternlicht, Sanford. Student Companion to Elie Wiesel. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2003. Print.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print.
The Central Themes in “Night” by Elie Wiesel Literature Analysis Essay
The night is the novel by Elie Wiesel, Jewish-American author and activist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his struggle for life, humanity, and peace. The work is devoted to the life of Jewish during the Holocaust. The life of the father and the son who were sent to Gestapo became the central theme of the novel’s plot. Their relationship reflected the changes in their mood and world perception while they were suffering the troubles and the horrors of Hitler occupation.
The Relationship between Eliezer and His Father
At the beginning of the novel, we meet Eliezer and his father, the main characters, the destinies of whom we will follow up to the end of the novel. The story begins in 1941 in Hungary. It was the time when the Jewish were persecuted in Europe. Realizing the threat caused by the moods in the society, the father prohibited his son’s visits to Mosche, a caretaker in local synagogue. Nevertheless, Eliezer continued visiting him. He liked their discussions of the Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish text.
“He wanted to drive the idea of studying Kabbalah from my mind. In vain. I succeeded on my own in finding a master for myself in the person of Moische the Beadle” (Wiesel 4).
In the Auschwitz
When the father and the son were sent to the Auschwitz, their world perception changed significantly. The horrors which they observed there influenced Elizier’s way of thinking and his visions about God. Seeing the killings every day, he lost his faith in God. Eliezer strives to be close to his father. Noticing how the strength left him, the son tried to be his supporter and caregiver. Their relationship changed at this point. Eliezer realized his duty of being strong to support his father. “I did not fast, mainly to please my father, who had forbidden me to do so. But further, there was no longer any reason why I should fast” (Wiesel 66).
The continuing sufferings exhausted Eliezer and his father morally and physically. Eliezer lost all his beliefs and persuasions which he had before. While in Buchenwald, he lost his father and did not know where he was sent to. At this moment, Eliezer started to think to stop his search of his father.
He thought that it would be better for him to be on his own as he would not survive if he supported his father. “Here, every man has to fight for himself and not think of anyone else. Even his father. Here, there are no fathers, no brothers, no friends. Everyone lives and dies for himself alone” (Wiesel, 105). Nevertheless, Eliezer changed his mind and became ashamed of his thoughts.
The relationship between Eliezer and his father are closely interconnected with his belief in God. Eliezer rebelled against God after he had seen the killings and horrors at the camps (Patterson et al. 261). It was the tragedy of the ordinary people, the shame of their destinies, their feelings, and actions (Capps 81).
The relationship between Eliezer and his father is one of the central themes in Wiesel’s novel. In the Nazis’ camps, he supported his father. They were always together. Along with the changes in world perception and the understanding of reality, Eliezer became disappointed with God. In spite of his mental torments, his faith in his father won, and he continued his search in Buchenwald.
Capps, Donald. The Depleted Self: Sin in a Narcissistic Age, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993. Print.
Patterson, David, Berger, Alan L. and S. Cargas. Encyclopedia of Holocaust Literature.Oryx Holocaust series, Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. Print.
Wiesel, Elie. Night, South Melbourne, New York: Bantam Books, 1982. Print.
Nazi Deception and “Night” by Elie Wiesel Essay
“Night” is a novel written by Elie Wiesel. The author narrates about his own experience of survival at the Nazi camps. The novel depicts the horrors and sufferings of people at the time of World War II and the life at the death camps built by Nazis in Europe. At the same time, it shows the deception, demoralization, and dehumanization spread by Nazi.
The Crime against Humanity
The actions of Nazis in Europe were called the crime against humanity. The mass killings of men, women, and children put the moral pressure on other imprisoned. The dehumanization provoked the demoralization at the camps. Eliezer, the main character of the novel and the prototype of the author, became one of the victims of the Nazi occupation in Europe.
In the novel, he depicts the horrors of that time. He and other members of his family had been taken to the ghettos in the Carpathian Transylvania. He observed the cynicism and rigidity of the Hungarian police. He told that it was the time when he started to hate them (Wiesel, 1992). Later, Eliezer and his father were sent to Auschwitz. Eliezer told that they did not know where his mother and sisters were but, after some time, they found out that they were sent to the gas camera as soon as they arrived at the camp.
The horrors observed by Eliezer and his fellows exhausted them morally. “Babies were thrown into the air, and the machine gunners used them as targets. This was in the forest of Galicia, near Kolomaye” (Wiesel, p.4). After observing this terrible scene, he started rethinking his attitude to life and moral as well as his faith in God.
The life at the ghettos was the struggle for survival every day and every night. The exasperation of the prisoners became the natural outcome of their oppression caused by seeing the deaths every day.
“The passengers on our boat were amusing themselves by throwing coins to the ‘natives,’ who were diving in to get them…. I suddenly noticed that two children were engaged in a death struggle, trying to strangle each other” (Wiesel p.95).
The novel is enriched with the memories of Eliezer of Nazis brutality. He and his fellows suffered from the famine and moral and physical exhaustion. At the same time, they observed the cruelty of the Nazi jailors.
“As we were not allowed to bend down, everyone took out his spoon and ate the accumulated snow off his neighbor’s back. The SS who were watching laughed at the spectacle” (Wiesel p.92).
The author describes his experience at the concentration camps as the murder of his soul, his dreams, and his God (Night. Study Guide n.d.). There are no exact figures of the deaths at the Nazi concentration camps. Some estimated the number of killed ranging from 1 885 889 to 2 045 215 casualties (Concentration Camp System 2019).
Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor, described his life experience at the Nazi concentration camps in Night, his famous novel. His memories depicted on the pages of his book make us think about the lessons of World War II for mankind. The Nazi deception, demoralization, and dehumanization spread at the camps produced the thousands of moral victims of the Nazi regime. We should always remember those people and do our best to avoid the repeat of the horrors of World War II.
Concentration camp system: in depth. (2019.). Holocaust Encyclopedia. Web.
Night. Study Guide. (n.d.). Web.
Wiesel, Elie. Night, South Melbourne, New York: Bantam Books, 1982. Print.
Eliezer’s Faith in God – “Night” by Elie Wiesel Literature Analysis Essay
Wiesel’s understanding of God in the book, Night, is demonstrated through the main character, Eliezer. Eliezer’s faith in God changes throughout the book, as Eliezer experiences the challenges of the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel had experienced the Holocaust while at a concentration camp and chose to narrate his experiences in writing.
The book explains the horrible occurrences of the Holocaust. One of the major conflicts in Night is Eliezer’s struggle with his faith. The events in the book regarding Elizer’s faith are quite sarcastic and dramatic as Eliezer’s faith moves from an intimate relationship with God to denying God’s existence and lastly Eliezer’s unshakable faith in God.
At the beginning of the book, we see Eliezer’s total and unreserved faith in God. He is so passionate about God and His existence. We find this in the way he expresses himself and speaks fondly about God. For example, in one instance, when he is confronted by a question about his passion for prayer, he says, “Why did I pray? […] Why did I live? Why did I breathe?” (Wiesel 2).
Eliezer’s life involved “Daily devotions reading the Talmud and attending evening prayers at the synagogue” (Wiesel 1). At this point, we find that Eliezer’s is not only committed to living a worthy life but is also seeking to gain in-depth knowledge on the teachings of the Cabbala.
His faith is so deep that he even goes against the wishes of his father, who is averse to the idea of his son studying the Cabbala. We are told that Eliezer’s ignores his father’s words and, “found a master for [himself], Moshe the Beadle” (SparkNotes 2). Moshe becomes the man of wisdom that teaches Elie “the revelations and mysteries of the Cabbala. (Sparknotes 3).
Things, however, take a dramatic twist when Eliezer’s goes to the concentration camp. Here Eliezer’s encounters a peculiar and rather shocking situation that shakes his faith in God. Here we are introduced to an Eliezer who has never witnessed the Holocaust before but now has to deal with its horrific and shocking events.
This is where Eliezer’s steadfastness in God suffers the test of time. There are many thoughts that go through Eliezer’s mind while at the concentration camps. Eliezer almost questions God as he wonders why a loving and compassionate God would allow his people to be so humiliated and maimed by merciless people.
Eliezer undoubtedly finds himself in a dilemma as he finds himself in a difficult situation. On the one hand, he is a man who trusts and believes in God, while on the other hand, he is unable to resist the temptation of questioning God. We encounter the first time that he seeks to falter God when he says, “why should I bless His name? The Eternal, Lord of the Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank him for?” (Wiesel 31).
Eliezer’s bound with God is not about his existence but related to his personality as the true and righteous judge. Eliezer seems to falter this idea. We are told Eliezer “did not deny God’s existence, but doubted His absolute justice” (Sternlicht 42). Perhaps, the scenario that best illustrates Eliezer’s dilemma is during the hanging of a young man. Eliezer is asked where his God is and answers, “Where is He? Here he is – He is hanging here on this gallows” (Sternlicht 62).
Throughout the book, Eliezer’s faith could be said to be evident even though shaken by inevitable circumstances. His anger towards God as he witnesses the Holocaust could be said to be rational as any believer could react the same way towards God. The fact that he questions God is enough to prove that has faith in God is somewhat shaken.
SparkNotes. Sparknotes 101: Literature.. New York, NY: SparkNotes., 2004. Print.
Sternlicht, Sanford. Student companion to Elie Wiesel. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003. Print.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print.
The Jewish Holocaust Novel ‘Night’ by Eliezer Wiesel Essay
‘Night’, a Jewish holocaust novel authored by Eliezer Wiesel, presents the impression of a dark tale that is experienced by the author, who describes his first-hand ordeal with the Nazis. In my opinion, there exists no suitable vocabulary word to provide an appropriate title for the holocaust of the Jews. At such a time in history, the oppressors had forgotten human nature, but the family spirit of those being oppressed was not distorted. Instead, it was made stronger.
Although the Eliezer’s people were devoured in anguish and pain, they did not seem to forget God’s presence in their hearts. This situation made some of the Jews to push on with the inhuman life under the hands of the Nazis. However, some Jews felt that God had forgotten them. Being Jews who are considered as strictly religious community, they started blaming Him for abandoning them in times of need. It reached a point where Eliezer had to trust and seek protection from his father than God Himself.
The Relationship between Eliezer and His Father
Eliezer’s relationship with his father has been variously highlighted in the novel, ‘Night’. In the beginning, he looked up to his father as a role model since he was highly regarded as a Jew elder. He was a consultant to issues that pertained to the Jewish community. This situation made Eliezer to look up to him even though he was too involved with the welfare of the Sighet Jewish Community and not with his own family (Wiesel 43). Generally, Eliezer admired the fact that his father was prayerful and he kept his utmost faith in God even in the time of oppression.
During the separation of women and men in Birkenau, Auschwitz, Eliezer decided to stay with his father. He was separated from his mother and sisters. Eliezer’s love and affection towards his father grew stronger since they were experiencing the torture and pain of being war prisoners together.
When the German oppressors moved Eliezer and his community to Buna camp from Auschwitz, he was selected to work at the electrical warehouse and he asked for permission to work closely to his father, which he was granted. However, ‘he was angry with his father for not avoiding the wrath of the official and doing his work efficiently as told’ (Wiesel 67). At one moment, he decided to teach his father how to march when he became hesitant to the commands of the German officials.
The relationship between Eliezer and his father started to soar since he had begun to become rebellious to both God and his father. This state of affairs was after Eliezer became reluctant to fast during the period of The Day of Atonement even after his father advised him to remain strong in faith during the trying times. Eliezer ‘accused God for letting him and his people experience hell on earth under His watch’ (Wiesel 92).
However, when the time to select and burn weak people in the cylinder came, Eliezer was always worried about his father and wondered if he would be able to pass the test that was set by the German medical officials. He got so disconcerted and vexed because his father was asked to remain behind by the officials since he did not have the required qualifications to work. He was rendered ineffective. Eliezer could not imagine separating with his father after all this far they had come together, so they decided to continue with their journey even before his father recovered.
It had reached the time to leave Buna and so, the Germans ordered the Jew war prisoners to evacuate. At this time, Eliezer realized the sole purpose of being alive was to support his father and be his keeper. They kept together at all times and soldiered on the harsh conditions and possibility of death at any given time. However, his father had been in a state of fever for several weeks and his condition was worsening day to day. Eliezer kept by his side throughout the ordeal without giving up on him.
Nevertheless, the fact remained that he was soon going to die since he was having dysentery and the doctors were not willing to save his life. This situation compelled Eliezer to become ‘open-minded about the situation and was ready for anything that came by his way’ (Wiesel 102). Presumably, when his father was cremated alive, Eliezer did not cry since he knew he had been through a lot of exploitation and he was now in peaceful eternally.
In conclusion, the relationship between the father and son in the ‘Night’ novel has remained sturdy and the difference in opinion at first did not deter them from going through the ordeal together. This bond between them ensured that they endured many hard situations to reach to such great lengths in the struggle of oppression.
They show us how the people struggled and what other men went through during the Jewish Holocaust; hence, they express the feelings of others who were in the same conditions. In my opinion, intrinsic love and affection that existed between Eliezer and his father kept their father-son relationship alive throughout the Jewish Holocaust.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. Argentina: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print.
Holocaust Experience in the Book ‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel Essay
Elie Wiesel accounts for a life full of horror and conflicting experiences. In the Wiesel’s Night story, Eliezer is depicted as the main character who witnesses and survives the Jewish holocaust. As a young boy, Eliezer is observant of life as it unfolds especially during the holocaust. Eliezer’s depiction in the story as the main character in the story is that of a humble and religious young man. Like any other boy from a humble family in the eastern European countries, Eliezer’s early knowledge of religious matters is evidenced from constant reading of the Torah and Cabala.
In fact, Eliezer had Moshe as a religious instructor at an early age. Eliezer’s passion and faith in God are further revealed from frequent visits to the synagogue. Eliezer’s understanding of God remains unshaken until he witnesses horrors beyond imagination. Eliezer’s faith in God keeps on shifting with time as the Nazis continue the atrocities against the Jews. In this regard, Eliezer struggles to maintain faith in God as events unfold in the story.
Dehumanization by the Nazis
For a long time, Eliezer believed that God protected the righteous from the evil. However, Eliezer witnesses dehumanization of his neighbors, friends and family. Eliezer witnesses as the Jews are subjected to horrendous treatment by the Nazis during the selection process at Birkenau (Wiesel 77). Eliezer remembers the smell from the burning Jewish bodies once they arrive at Birkenau. At this point, the idea of embracing heroic humanism takes toll a majority of the Jews contemplate of escaping. On the other hand, Eliezer develops cynicism about God after many Jews are killed by the Nazis.
Eliezer’s blurred vision of God
Eliezer remembers his commitment to an omnipotent God and asks “Where is God? Where is He?” The blurred vision of God is realized once a young boy is sentenced to death by strangling on the gallows by the Nazis. Eliezer’s anger in God for forsaking his people is too much to bear after the death of a young boy (63). According to Eliezer, God also died on that day by “hanging here on this gallows” (65). The likening of God execution marks Eliezer’s lack of hope and faith for a bright future. In an ironical twist, Eliezer admits that there is God does not favor the youth.
Eliezer’s struggle to maintain his faith in God makes him an existential superman. Life difficulties and the urge to survive makes Eliezer and his ilk become masters of the world. Without faith in God, Eliezer bears no illusions or false hopes. In this context, the will to survive and make a difference leaves young Eliezer without compassion of others.
In fact, this is evidenced when Eliezer friends distanced themselves from family to ease the pain of death and suffering. According to Eliezer, such is a sacrifice that he wishes not to commit. He witnesses Rabbi Eliahou’s son loses compassion of family and friends to save them from further humiliation by the Nazis. Ironically, Eliezer renews his faith in God by praying for compassion to avoid such embarrassment.
Although Eliezer is disillusioned and does not embrace faith during the experience, he still believes in God. For Eliezer, it is a constant struggle to maintain the very faith in God which leaves him weak and confused. The character becomes vulnerable to diminishing faith. In this regard, he is in a constant praying mood so as to ensure that his faith in God does not diminish.
Moshe, who is a religious instructor, insists on the importance of praying by saying “I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions” (5). Perhaps, this is the very basis that Eliezer uses to contemplate his faith in God. Indeed the holocaust experience makes Eliezer reevaluate his faith by questioning the nature of good and evil. Without a doubt, Eliezer’s experience makes him have a firm stand on his faith in God than before.
Eliezer’s portrayal as a man struggling with his faith is a replica of humanity’s experience during the difficult moments. The night is an effective symbol of a situation where man has no firm stand in regard to what he believes. The fact that the main character is a young boy who struggles with negative thoughts and emerges victorious in his quest shows the resilience of humanity. The constant questioning of faith reveals the strength of man during adversities.
In fact, “….every question possessed power that did not lie in the answer. Man raises himself toward God by the question he asks him” (5). From the story of Eliezer, the importance of faith in deriving a moral authority over issues affecting humanity is critical. The world’s struggles in the 20th century as evidenced by the impact of the holocaust calls for mankind to strive for compassion. In this context, the reality of consulting faith as the last resort in embracing compassion and humanity is recommendable.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. Print.
Night by Elie Wiesel
There were many situations that Elie Wiesel has experienced which brought about a change in his character. In the memoir, Night, Elie Wiesel changes in response to his concentration camp experiences. The separation from his loved ones and the horrible conditions of these camps affected Elie greatly. The Holocaust affected Elie physically, emotionally and also spiritually. Elie changed physically by being a healthy human being into a walking skeleton. The Jews can be described as “skin and bones”. The Jews were extremely weak.
They were forced to work at labor camps, which must’ve been extremely difficult. The lack of food served at the concentration camps, as well as poor quality of what was served made him that way. They were only fed stale bread and thing soup. They were eating as little as 300 calories a day! The average person should be having 1500-2000 calories a day. It gets to the point where everything revolves around food and each person’s survival.
According to page 104, Elie’s father claims that the other prisoners were beating him. Elie then says “I began to abuse neighbors. They laughed at me. I promised them bread, and soup” Elie knows that food is the most valuable thing you need in the concentration camps. That is why he uses bread and soup in order to sway the other prisoners from giving his father a hard time. “One day when we had come to a stop, a worker took a piece of bread out of his bag and threw it into a wagon. There was a stampede. Dozens of starving men fought desperately over a few crumbs.
The worker watched the spectacle with great interest.” (100) This shows how people were so terribly desperate for food in order to survive. Elie Wiesel has also changed emotional. In the beginning of the story, Wiesel’s father was like the patriarch not just to the family, but to the community as well. When the Germans occupied Sighet, the neighbors would seek the advice of Wiesel’s father. At the camps, the father was still somewhat the patriarch. He advised Wiesel not to draw attention to himself and even prisoners who knew him before came to him. Elie Wiesel had changed emotionally soon after entering the camps because he had a better relationship with his father and his only goal was to take care of his father because that was the first time got close to him. Elie is determined in protecting father. Throughout the book, he is seen caring for his father in a variety of ways, sharing his soup with him and seeking medical help. Towards the end of the book, when his father is weak and sick and Elie is emotionally and physically spent from the torture, he temporarily wishes to get rid of his father because he has become a burden. Then when Wiesel is taken to the crematorium while Elie is sleeping, he feels terribly guilty and fears that his father may have been burned alive. In the beginning we see Elie Wiesel who was devoted in time studying the Talmud and dreaming one day of studying the Cabala. He was a boy who had faith and innocence. At Auschwitz, Elie and the other prisoners worked long hours with very little food and battled the severe cold weather.
Every week, people would collapse from exhaustion. If they lost the strength to survive, they would be sent to the gas chambers or their body would be thrown into a mass grave. Elie, who once had faith in God, changed his way of believing him. He questioned his existence and asked him how could he let this happen “Why should I bless His name? The Eternal, Lord of the Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank Him for” (31)? These experiences changed Elie’s personality and life. Elie became more independent. He knew that he was alone in the world and that he could not trust anyone in that situation. It was all about self-preservation. The priorities he once had, have changed and Elie is found doing things out of his character. These experiences can affect his future. He had lost contact with all his loved ones. He was alone after the liberation of the concentration camps. Elie Wiesel had to start anew all on his own. He was not able to talk about his experiences until ten years later. Elie Wiesel was traumatized from all the horrific experiences he went through in those concentration camps. After bearing witness of such horrific scenes in the camps, Elie began to question his faith in God and asked Him how could he let these things go like this.
Despite his dwindling faith, he never completely lost it. It was his little bit of faith and his father’s presence that motivated him to keep fighting for his life. The book “Night” showed me the disturbing disregard for human beings, or the human body itself. The animalistic acts by the Nazis have scarred mankind eternally with hatred and discrimination. This book shows me what humans are capable of and that we should all be aware of that. “Night” is just one of many memoirs written by Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust. Wiesel feels compelled to bear witness to the suffering that he experienced and observed in the concentration camps. In “Night” he writes about the experience of the deaths of his family members, the death of his adolescence, and the death in his naive belief in man’s innate goodness. The power of the memoir is that it captures the experience and insists that forgetting about such crimes against humanity is not an option. People must endure hardships in life, some harder than others. In the 1940’s the Japanese American internment was the cruel forcing removal and then relocation of roughly 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans. (James Black, 3-6) About sixty-two percent of these Japanese that were relocated were United States citizens. The Japanese were relocated from their homes on the West Coast of the United States during the Second World War. The relocation was due to nervous and false inclinations of subversion after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The people and the government seemed to demand that the Japanese Americans be treated as a threat to U.S. security. The Japanese Americans were treated inhumanely. The relocation of the Japanese began in mid-February and by the end of 1942, almost the entire Japanese American population on the West Coast, more than 110,000 men, women, and children had been relocated to internment camps throughout the country. The Japanese were rounded up and shipped eventually to internment camps. These consisted of poorly constructed barracks surrounded by barbed wire, sentry posts and armed guards. They were put in these camps, not because they had been tried and found guilty of something, but because either they or their parents or ancestors were from Japan so therefore, they were a “threat” to national security. They were also easily identifiable due to their race. Saburo Masada was one of the many who survived from the Internment camps. Masada would never forget another date, March 16, 1942. That day, a U.S. Army truck drove into the front yard of the Masadas’ farm.
All nine family members were loaded into it and taken to the Fresno fairgrounds. Once a fun place, the fairgrounds now was surrounded with barbed wire fences and guard towers with soldiers manning guns pointed at Saburo and other Japanese Americans. “The government tried to say in the propaganda that it was to protect us, but the towers and the guns were pointed at us.” (Tammy Real-McKeighan, 47-48) Saburo had witness many innocent deaths. These Internment camps transformed his life and future. To Masada and other children, the incarceration was extremely traumatic. People were separated from their loved ones. Two-thirds of the prisoners were children under age 15. Japanese Americans were kept on a rodeo grounds for five months, before being transported in old, rickety
trains to an Arizona camp. They got to take two duffel bags of belongings per person. They were given tags with numbers. “My mother drummed it into us that we were to remember our number because ‘they will not know you by your name from now on. You are a number.’ It was a way of dehumanizing us,” she said. (Real-McKeighan, 62-64) They were treated inhumanely. Many Japanese people owned good businesses, but they were all taken away. When they were liberated, they had nothing to go back to. They had to start anew from rock bottom. Masada has also changed emotionally. “My whole experience in camp was a traumatic one I was made to feel that I started the war. I felt being Japanese was bad. … I felt a hurt I couldn’t explain. I didn’t know how to fight back, I would be so angry I would take it out on others,” (Real-McKeighan, 70-73) Saburo Masada and Elie Wiesel are both amazing survivors of being in a concentration camp.
Masada was a survivor of the Japanese Internment camps and Elie Wiesel was a survivor of the Concentration camp. Masada and Wiesel were both separated from their loved ones. They were forced to leave everything behind to only bring their personal belongings that were eventually going to be taken away by the guards at the camps. Masada and Wiesel had similar living experiences in the barracks. They lived in tight spaces with several people and had diseases spreading which killed many people. Both tragic events lasted for about 4 years and also four years of witnessing innocent deaths. The reason why they were taken into camps was because of their race. The Germans thought that Jews did not belong because they were not German. The U.S thought that Japanese people were threats to them after the attack of Pearl Harbor. They both also think that the main point is to pay tribute so that we never forget about these tragic events. You should spread the word and let everyone know what human beings are capable of. However, there were some differences from the Japanese Internment camp victims and the Holocaust survivors.
The reason why Japanese victims were taken in camps because the U.S thought they were threats since the Japanese American citizens’ ancestors were originally from Japan. Since Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the U.S was extremely paranoid. Jews were forced into concentration camps because Germans truly thought they were the reason why they lost to WWI. Hitler believed white European people to be the founders of culture and specifically blonde hair blue eyed northern Europeans to be the peak of human kind, Jews did not fit these ideas culturally or racially. Jews were seen as non-German and alien to German culture. Conditions in some of the American internment camps were certainly harsh, and some guards were petty minded. However, the intention of the extermination camps and the forced labor camps was to kill the Jews, not to intern them. (Chris Fryer, 34-36) Saburo Masado had struggled in the Internment camps. Although he struggled, he faced the evil in this by being determined to survive. He wanted to go back to the farm he and his family owned and live a normal life. He wanted to be free and to tell let the world know that you should pay tribute. Never forget the tragic events. Always speak up. His determination and his family led him to survival. America should celebrate rather than hide from this mistake because the Japanese dominated and they are one of the ethnicities that drive America. The pains of the Japanese Americans in the camps should not be left out of history books but rather be celebrated for their triumph during one of America’s darkest times.
Almendrala, Anna. “Japanese American Internment Camp Stories: Survivors Urged To Tell Their Tale For ‘Remembrance Project’” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 27 Feb. 2012. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
Black, James. “Japanese Internment Camps of World War II.” Yahoo! Contributor Network. N.p., 22 Sept. 2009. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
Fryer, Chris. “Allan Hida Shares Experience with Japanese Internment Camps.”Sacramento Press / Allan Hida Shares Experience with Japanese Internment Camps. N.p., 9 Dec. 2010. Web. 16 Mar. 2013
Real-McKeighan, Tammy. “Couple Shares Story of Living in Japanese Internment Camps.” Fremont Tribune. N.p., 24 Apr. 2012. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
Critical Lens Essay on the book Night by Elie Wiesel
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” That quote is from Elie Wiesel in his Nobel Peace Prize Speech. I agree with the quotation. In the story Night by Elie Wiesel, many elements correspond to the quote and to the idea of silence and complicity. Wiesel says in his book that many different people were silent because they were not directly affected by the Holocaust, and thought that if they did something to try to stop it, then they themselves would get hurt.
He also explained how people like Moshe the Beadle and other characters in Night who were humiliated by fellow Jews did not believe that the Holocaust was occurring. Overall, the Jews, God, and the German citizens were all silent during the Holocaust. Their silence encouraged the Nazis to gain strength and reach the magnitude of eventually massacring six million Jews.
“I did not move. I was afraid,” (37) said the character Eliezer in Night.
That quote refers to when his father is beaten at the concentration camp and Eliezer just stood there watching it and doing nothing to stop it. The setting of the story Night takes place in a small town of Transylvania in 1941. To this day Wiesel still feels guilty about his inaction. The silence of the victims and the lack of resistance to the Nazi threat is one way in which neutrality and silence helps the tormentors, or in this case the Nazis and never the victims who were the Jews. Even when Eliezer was being led to the fire pit and thought he was going to die, he did not try to run or escape.
In the concentration camps, the Jews greatly outnumbered the Nazi soldiers. Maybe if they revolted then even though many would die in the attempt, many could still escape and the number of people who died would be insignificant to the amount of Jews who died when they did not rise up together. It is implied throughout the text that silence and passivity are what allowed the Holocaust to continue. Wiesel’s writing of Night is itself an attempt to break the silence, to tell loudly and boldly the new generation of people about the atrocities of the Holocaust. He feels that people need to know so that they can find out the warning signs and prevent anything so horrible from ever happening again.
“Where is God? Where is He?” (61) someone behind Eliezer asked. This quote from Night refers to when a child is hung in front of all the Jewish prisoners to scare them into behaving. “For more than half an hour the child in the noose stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed.” (62) Behind Eliezer, he heard the same man as who said the above quotation asking: “Where is God now?” (62) And Wiesel heard a voice within himself say: “Where is He? Here He is–He is hanging here on this gallows. . . .” (62) Those quotes show that God was also silent during the Holocaust. It is the idea of God’s silence that Eliezer finds most troubling.
Eliezer’s point of view during the story Night changes from not questioning why he prays, to believing that God is dead and does not care about him or any other person on earth. When a man asks, “Where is God?” (61) the only response is “total silence throughout the camp.” (61) Eliezer and his fellow Jews are left to wonder how an all-knowing, all–powerful God can allow such horror and cruelty to occur, especially to such devout worshipers. The existence of this horror, and the lack of a divine response, forever shakes Eliezer’s faith in God. At first Wiesel used to pray without questioning God’s existence. Now, Eliezer does not fast on the holy day of Yom Kippur and believes that God has died along with the boy that was hung. The silence of God shocks Eliezer and allows the Nazis to persecute them because the Jews hope for a miracle that never comes from a God who does not exist.
“The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.” That quote is also from Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize Speech. The German people living right next to the death camps such as Auschwitz and Buna could smell bodies being burnt, and could see the fire and smoke yet they did nothing. This is complicity, which is defined as the involvement as an accomplice in a questionable act or a crime (according to dictionary.com). The Germans were silent, and because of their silence, the tormentors and Nazis were able to further persecute their victims, who were the Jews and many other ethnic minorities that were used as scapegoats. In Night, Eliezer says, “Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live.”
This famous quote can be interpreted to mean that the silence of the Germans and the Allied forces is what really allowed the Jews to be murdered so heartlessly. Even though the German civilians did not do anything, Eliezer blames the Allied countries such as Great Britain and the United States for their slow response in reacting to the Nazi threat. It was said years after the Holocaust that if any powerful figure got on the BBC news radio station, telling all of the Jews to evacuate their homes and flee to Russia because all of the other Jews are disappearing, then more Jews might have been saved. Eliezer and his family were taken to Birkenau in 1944, when the war was already going on for many years. His family could have been warned and most likely saved from the Nazis. It was the neutrality and the lack of involvement of the Allied forces that led to the death of the Jews because they were not warned.
In conclusion, the quote “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented” is valid because the silence of the Jews, God, the German civilians, and the Allied forces contributed to the mass murder of millions of people. All of these people in their own separate ways, due to their neutrality and silence during the Holocaust period, allowed the victims to be murdered. The Jews did not rise up against their tormentors, and therefore allowed themselves to be killed. God did not act to protect his “chosen people” and at the moment of a horrible sacrifice, God does not intervene to save innocent lives. The German people went along with Hitler’s grand scheme as puppets.
Finally, the only way that the Jews could have had the opportunity of escaping their fate was if they were warned. The allies had the opportunity to warn the Jews, but didn’t, perhaps believing that other countries would warn the Jews. But they didn’t. “In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” That quote is from Martin Niemoller and proves that “silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”