The Elie Wiesel’s novel night is a perfect example in which the narrative style clearly demonstrates the whole tragedy and torment the author has gone through. It is a book that shows the true nature of man that shows the holocaust as a product of this nature that showed the man as the aggressor and the victim at the same time. The novel which could be considered as memoirs is titled “Night”, which could be explained differently, but mostly the obvious explanation is that every night no matter how dark it was will be certainly followed by a dawn and a day.
Expressing the hard tests of destiny and symbolizing them with the night in which most of the crimes usually took place. The holocaust is not a history or a past event, it is a scar on humanity that will remain to remind and the author showed some of factors that were contained in that process.
The holocaust showed in the book did not start as single transformation, the roots of this could be found in early demonstrations of discrimination Jews by the Nazis. The idea of the superior race started earlier through the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime. However it was fully implemented through during the war, as an annihilation of an entire population basically due to the reason that this population is inferior to the Aryan race.
In the book it shown in the context that the Jews were living in poverty, although the full extent of what worse could happen is not understandable, as they do not believe Moshe as they follow the war news mostly on the radio.
The order of which the oppression was gradual, as the camps came later.
First, the banning of attending public places, and then restrictions of going out after 6, points out that Nazi’s plans for the Jews along with their naivety were even for the worst nightmares was too atrocious to be true. The feel of uncertainty and the moving from one ghetto to another is a part of the plan that is revealed by pieces.
The parallel could be shown for similar uncertainty, through the period of slavery in the US when the slaves were being brought to the unknown and unaware of their fate.
The unawareness of the worst that might come was also a demonstration of the superiority in which it is not necessary to inform the slaves-Jews of destination point as they do not participate in that process.
Another similar parallel could point out with the same period, in the male- female separation. The difference might occur only in realizing the slavery was exploitation, and the anti-Semitic movement was a sort of a blame and exploitation to a certain limit after which they do not deserve to live.
The final solution as a covered or disguised term for the extermination of the Jews has its roots back to the years of the depression in Germany.
The period of depression in Germany in which Hitler blamed the Jews as the reason behind all the movements that oppose his party, came to an end by implementing the plan of prohibiting the Jews from being assigned to any work position, as a result after the improvements in the employment side in Germany he found many supporters for his ideas.
The first chapters of the novel exactly demonstrate the final solution in execution. The terms used are part keeping unawareness not only from the victims but from Europe at the same time.
Although as previously mentioned the final destination for the transportations was unknown, most people knew what or at least imagined what awaited them there.
The novel also addresses the theme of belief, even when the narrator was young he showed an interest in god by studying the books with Moshe. The novel also addresses the theme of loosing the faith, as Ellie’s belief in God and God’s justice at first was unwavering. However, as he witnessed the life from the painful side, his faith began to waver, and he doubted God’s justice.
The scene of witnessing the hanging of a small child, he started to doubt God’s existence. However, he continued to address him. The feelings he showed to God, teach that even in difficult situations, through the pain one must not loose the faith, even if questioning the silence of God on the injustice he faced.
Perhaps, the best known and memorable place in the book is the scene of the execution of three prisoners of Auschwitz – two adult and child, who were hung by Nazis, who found weapons with them.
The adults were perished immediately. But here the light as a plumelet child fluttered for half an hour between life and death. “Where is God?” – asked then some of the prisoners, and, as the author, acknowledges, voice inside him answered: “Here he is. Hung on this scaffold”.
The matter of faith can be connected to another theme which is relation between Wiesel and his father. Loosing his mother and sister kept the bounds to his father strong as ever as his last hope, but the atmosphere that surrounded them kept them both unable to express their emotions, except the time when he saw his father crying.
The dilemma of helping one self to survive or helping his father put complex decisions for the young Wiesel to make, which has shown the absence of emotions or the motives to react, although many thoughts obviously were tearing his mind.
The discussion of the reasons behind the final solution can be interpreted as the time line chronology in the book followed and recording the time events that correspond to each period.
If looking to Auschwitz it was an enormous complex in which they were the usual camp for the prisoners of war, and it was a production center that contained the prisons and the gas chambers. The Jews were brought there for work, and the ones who were found unusable, i.e., old men, children and majorities of women – immediately were sent away into the gas chambers.
Therefore, the first idea of using the Jews as work slave or in other words to use cheap-free manpower, and as the war progressed and the there were the first signs of German’s loss.
The decision changed to kill all the Jews, it could be said that they were killed even before that in the process of the war, but the obvious and clear “final solution» could have been declared when the war started to end and the process shaped into a systematic action.
The western history can witness many events, though similar in promoting the superiority in a way or another, but at the same time not as monstrous as the factors leading to the holocaust.
Are the final solution and the holocaust a product of the west? An arguable statement, but it can be noticed after thorough study that there would be no Nazism without social- Darwinism, without racism, which arose long before the actual Hitler theory, without the Christian anti-Semitism, without the anti-Semitism of enlighteners – and so up to the romanticism, which also become one of the stones foundation of the ideology of the third Reich.
By the quintessence of the Nazism, by the highest point (i.e., actually, by the lowest point) the culture of the West perceived the Holocaust.
Specifically, by the wounds resulted from this monstrous phenomenon, by the generated guilt complex is explained the Philosemitism of some European intellectuals, and anti Semitism of others. Even the revision of the history of the Holocaust, undertaken constantly in the postwar years, has by its nature of the vulnerability and impressionability of western consciousness by this crime.
With that – it should be emphasized – the discussion does not deal with the assertion, supposedly that anti-Semitism – though one of major but not the only fundamental feature of Nazism.
Cruelty VS Cruelty
The principle that the cruelty and brutality spawn brutality is an element demonstrated in the book and could be interpreted as motifs in the existence of such tragedies as the holocaust.
For the cruelty in the prisoners themselves it could be noticed that Instead of helping each other in times of difficulty, the prisoners react to their circumstances by turning against one another. Near the end of the book, when Kapo says to Eliezer, “Here, every man has to fight for himself and not think of anyone else…. Here, there are no fathers, no brothers, and no friends. Everyone lives and dies for himself alone.”
It is important to mention that a Kapo makes this comment to the Wiesel, because Kapos were on a little higher rank as they were prisoners put in charge on other prisoners.
They maintained a better existence (though still horrible) in the camp life, but they helped the Nazi plan and mostly acted cruelly toward prisoners in their charge. At the beginning of the fifth section, Wiesel alludes to them as “functionaries of death.” The Kapos’ functions in the camp shows the way the Holocaust’s cruelty bred cruelty in its victims, turning people against each other, as the survivals became the highest virtue.
The novel after all, despite being a vivid example of one of the most severe crimes in history of the last century, and by crime the holocaust in particular and the World War II in general, it first of all addresses the human faith and the belief in God.
The Holocaust gave a message to people everywhere to reestablish the role of God in their lives, and anyone who comes close to these horrors will have doubts in his present faith.
Some have reacted with anger toward God, others with denial. Still others reacted with mistrust of all that God had meant before. But by asking questions, some have grown to learn that God never did things the way people expect Him to, and that fact becomes the cornerstone of the new start to their theology. The questions answered by God serve purposes of great tests. This is the lesson that could be extracted from Auschwitz and from the Novel of Elie Wiesel.
Questions must be asked, until one day the answers could be found.
Until that time we should hope that such tragedy will never happen again and as the history teach us, no matter in what era or place it certainly repeats itself.
Weisel, Elies.” Night”. Hill and Wang. January 2006.