Night by Elie Wiesel – A Review

(Photo from barnesandnoble.com)

“Pressed tightly against one another, in an effort to resist the cold, our heads empty and heavy, our brains a whirlwind of decaying memories. Our minds numb with indifference. Here or elsewhere, what did it matter? Die today or tomorrow, or later? The night was growing longer, never-ending.”    ~From Night by Elie Weisel

A-7713. One letter, four numbers. One boy, one life. Priceless, yet treated with the utmost inhumanity.

Elie Weisel’s story of surviving the Holocaust is one of the many stories this world needs to hear. It truly alarms me to see the lack of awareness so many people exhibit towards what happened in camps like Auschwitz and Buchenwald during Hitler’s reign.

Recently, I watched a short film hosted by Ray Comfort entitled 180. In it, Comfort interviewed people on the streets, asking them questions like, “Do you know who Hitler was?”

Now, one would think that everyone in the civilized world knows who Hitler was as well as the evil he afflicted on so many innocent people. After all, exterminating 6 million Jews is not something that is easily forgotten. Yet, so many of the people Ray Comfort interviewed had never heard of Hitler. They didn’t have a clue who he was. Those who had heard the name gave ambiguous answers, usually just noting Hitler’s connection to some controversial political party.

This is scary. We have young people growing up only 76 years since the start of World War II who are completely oblivious to what happened in Nazi Germany. Obviously, this is not true of all people. I would say the ones who don’t know who Hitler was belong in the minority. But, history has shown the power of small percentages. The American Revolution is a prime example. And what happens if this lack of awareness is allowed to grow? What happens when the last Holocaust survivor dies, when the last connection to that dark abyss is no longer available for us to question? What will happen if people swallow the ridiculous lies circulating that the Holocaust was a hoax?

In his book, Night, Elie Weisel provides the generations to come with an accurate, eye-witness account of exactly what happened behind the iron bars and barbed-wire fences of concentration camps. A Romanian-born Jew, Weisel and his entire family were transported to Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. Upon arrival, Weisel’s mother and younger sister were sent to the crematorium. He never saw them again. Weisel managed to stay with his father, and together, the two struggled to survive under some of the most inhumane treatment in history. For 8 months, Elie and his father fought for life through hunger, disease, injury, exhaustion, and the never-ending threat of death. Elie survived to see the camp’s liberation on April 11, 1945; he and his two older sisters were the only ones in his family to live through the Holocaust.

Prisoners at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in Weimar, Germany. Elie Weisel is the seventh man from the left on the 2nd to bottom row. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

The horrendous accounts described in this book portray the Holocaust in its truly evil state. Weisel describes the desperation, starvation, exhaustion, and illness rampant among the prisoners with heart-rending accuracy. Furthermore, he exposes the feelings he had as a teenager living in the camps. He recounts how terrified he was at losing his ability to feel- losing all sensitivity to others, even his own father, because every second of his life demanded his commitment to survival.

I’ve read several books on the Holocaust, and I have to say that Night is one of the best-written survivor autobiographies I’ve encountered. Weisel paints the picture for his reader to see the horrendous occurrences in places like Auschwitz and Buchenwald. Because he holds nothing back in recounting his feelings and experiences of the concentration camps, Weisel allows the reader to connect with him and get an understanding on how man will never be “basically good.”

This is an autobiography, so Weisel’s account is all true-to-life. That being said, it is not for the faint of heart. While he is not especially graphic, Weisel blatantly tells of exactly what happened in the camps. Inappropriate language is not a recurring problem in this book, although “son of a b—-” surfaces twice. For readers 14 and older, Night will keep your eyes riveted on the page as you endure the heartbreaking tragedies of young Elie Weisel, the one the Nazis reduced to A-7713.

As a side note, if you have not seen Ray Comfort’s 180, I highly recommend it. We have to remain informed on things like this in order to prevent such incredible atrocities from ever again disgracing planet Earth.

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