Night by Elie Wiesel – Book Review

Elie Wiesel’s Night is a personal account of the Holocaust. It narrates the experiences of a  schoolboy in the camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. It is a poignant account of the cruelties imposed on man by man.

Elie Wiesel was a schoolboy who was born in Sighet and spent his life with his family. In 1944, he was taken to Auschwitz and then to Buchenwald. Immediately separated from his mother and sister, he is left with his father to work in the camp. The rest of the book recalls his experiences in the camp until he was released a year later. The book voices out the grief and despair of the inmates of the camp. The author successfully manages to express himself and provide a disturbing account of the Holocaust.

Eliezer Wiesel was a Holocaust Survivor who later became a writer, professor and an activist. He was born on September 30 in the year of 1928. He authored several book that bear witness to the experiences of concentration camps. He was honoured with the Nobel Prize for Peace in the year 1986. He dedicated his whole life for Jewish causes and human rights causes. He died in the year 2016. 

“Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing…
And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes.
And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished.

Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
“For God’s sake, where is God?”
And from within me, I heard a voice answer:
“Where He is? This is where–hanging here from this gallows…”

That night, the soup tasted of corpses.”

Forced out of silence by experiences such as these, the author manages to create an enduring account of what an inmate went through in the camp. Though the book is short and the writing sparse, it makes the reader relive the suffering experienced by the people in the camp. It makes the reader empathize with the author and feel his disgust at humanity after reading the book. 

Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.

The pain that is contained in the words alone is sufficient to make one ponder about the absurdity and meaninglessness of inflicting pain upon fellow humans in the name of race, caste, or gender. 

“If only I could get rid of this dead weight … Immediately I felt ashamed of myself, ashamed forever.” 

 “Here there are no fathers, no brothers, no friends”, a Kapo tells him. “Everyone lives and dies for himself alone.”

The book captures, with precision, the emotions of the human mind in the face of extreme suffering. Events such as doctors pulling out gold crown tooth, people who enjoyed watching people fight for a loaf of bread, a father abandoned by his son make one question about Faith and God just like the author. 

“One day when I was able to get up, I decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.”

After reading the last lines of this book, the reader’s mind is sure to be purged of trivialities and filled with a deep sense of empathy.

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