Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Night by Elie Wiesel

I don’t even know the words to describe what's between the pages of this book. This is the first time I’ve read an in depth encounter of the Holocaust. I don’t understand how someone with a human brain can bring themselves to do such things to other human beings. It’s despicable.

In this book, Elie Wiesel courageously relives his days in a German concentration camp. He begins by recalling the warning the town received in 1942 from someone that had seen what was happening and managed to escape. No one would listen. They thought he was crazy. In 1944 they would find out he was telling the truth.

First came the creation of ghettos, where families were fenced into restricted areas before being herded into trucks like cattle and hauled off to the camps. Upon arrival, they were told by one of the camp residents that they should’ve killed themselves before allowing themselves to be brought there.

And then begins this heart wrenching story of survival that revolves around Elie and his father, willing to do anything to keep from being separated from one another. They witness the hanging of a young boy. His weight did not allow him to die immediately, so instead he hung there, suffering, barely able to breathe, on the brink of life and death. Babies were being tossed into the air and used as target practice. Food was so limited that a young man kills his own father over scraps, after which he was mobbed and killed for those very same scraps.

It is a horrendous story. And it was only today that I could look at a picture of Elie Wiesel without tearing up. As with “Left to Tell” which is an account of the Rwandan genocide, “Night” is a book that I will never forget. Wiesel followed this book with "Dawn" and "Day".

Update: Six months after reading this book, I got a chance to meet Holocaust survivor Margot Friedlander at her book launch. You can find the recap here. 

Update: Elie Wiesel died on July 2, 2016.

“Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe”. Elie Wiesel

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