A Reflection On The Novel Night By Elie Wiesel

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The memoir Night portrays the true story of a young Jewish boy who was a prisoner during the Holocaust. In Night, Elie Wiesel thoroughly describes the immense torture, degradation and oppression Jews had to suffer simply for being Jewish. Hitter among with the Fascist government sought to exterminate European Jewish.

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Hitler and the Nazi government considered all European Jewish as Inferior. Hitler justified his atrocities by claiming he was trying to purify the German “race”. Adolf Hitler believed the Aryans were superior above all other people. According to the reading “The Eugenics Movement”, eugenics validated Nazism, as well as it did other forms of racism and intolerance. The idea of eugenics then goes on to become the logic behind the Nazi genocide. Jews, all mentally ill, handicapped and all of these are considered forms of “Feeblemindedness”. In “The great race” Madison Grant argues for the preservation of America as a “civilization “.This influences Hitler and the extermination campaign. As we discussed in class, the ideas from the Nazi propaganda were derived of the Eugenics movement. According to eugenic scientists, darker skinned people were said to be closer to the primitive because of certain characteristics. These ideas have had a tremendous impact on many racial groups such as the Native Americans, African Americans and Jewish people. “According to the reading “Inventing civilizations”, Gingrich believed that American Civilization was threatened by cultural diversity. Native Americans were killed and considered “untamable wild savages”. African Americans were enslaved because they were considered “Mentally inferior and physically built to work the plantations. Hitler and the Fascist later developed that same idea of racism and forced Jews into concentration camps in an effort to expel them from German society. “There are anti-Semitic incidents every day in the streets, in the trains. The fascists are attacking the Jewish shops and synagogues. The situation is getting very serious.” 

Throughout the book, we can identify the three dimensions of racism which are Institutional, Interpersonal and Internalized. An example of Institutionalized racism is when the Nazi’s began to implement new decrees. Every Jew had to wear the yellow star and was prohibited to go into restaurants, cafes, travel or even attend the synagogues. By law, Jews also had curfews. They could not be out past six o’clock. Jews were marginalized and deprived of any form of freedom. “A Jew no longer had the right to keep in his house gold, jewels or any object of value”. In continuation, Jews were institutionalized and separated by being put into two ghettos in Sighet. The Nazi’s aimed to make Jews second-class citizens. An example of Interpersonal racism is the gypsy deportee in charge of the barracks. When Eliezer’s father politely asked him where the lavatories were, the gypsy sized him up and down and then continued to beat him. “He dealt my father such a clout that he fell to the ground…”. Furthermore, Internalized racism is seen with the French girl who works with Elie at the warehouse. She confesses to him that she was indeed Jewish and that she falsified papers to pass as an Aryan. The French girl was subjected to forge papers and pass as Aryan because anything other than that, fell into the bottom of the hierarchy. Another example is the overall fight for bread. The prisoners only have small rations of food and soup. They are so staved that they care not of anyone or anything. They fight and kill just to survive. These Jewish people who were believed in loving and caring for one another are now forced against each other. Wiesel describes that one son had even killed his father for the ration of bread… “His son searched him, took the bread and began to devour it.” (Wiesel 96) Mier ruthlessly attacked his own blood strictly out of instinct.

Overall, Elie Wiesel’s memoir shifted my perspective of race. His book revealed to me the worst of the human race. Learning about this tragic historical event from a survivor’s perspective changed my understanding of racism. As I progressed reading the book I realized that the book made me feel as if the events were happening in the present. Despite the fact that it was written 70 years ago. It made me feel full of hatred and made me feel a profound pain I never thought a book could trigger. Wiesel uses very powerful words which create a series of images that stick with you. For example, as he witnesses the slow hanging death of an angel faced boy, he questions his faith and states that God was there too, God was hanging there on the gallows. ”That the soup that night tasted of corpses.”  This is powerfully written that it’s almost as if I can envision that taste of the soup. It’s very sickening to think that these events actually occurred. Furthermore, it is important to read this book so that these tragic events stay alive in our memory, so that we as a society are reminded to never let this happen ever again.  

16 December 2021

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