Elie Wiesel is a Nobel Peace Prize winning author, political activist, and professor. Born in Sighet Transylvania in 1928, he has written over forty works of fiction and non-fiction that are celebrated in many different languages around the world. The one in particular that I wanted to write about in this post is titled ‘Night’.
When Wiesel was 15 he along with his family were deported to the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Shortly following their arrival he was separated from his mother and sisters, never to see them again. This book details his experience living in what can only be described as hell. A beautifully written piece of literature it reaches out and grabs your soul, and your humanity while illuminating the truly unanswerable question; how? How could this have happened? How could so much suffering be aloud to occur? How could those responsible have enough hate to inflict so much pain on the undeserving? And a haunting thought: while millions of people suffered the rest of the world kept spinning. Babies were born, couples were married. People were able to look back on the best day of their lives, not knowing that for countless others that day was spent at the unrelenting hands of the Nazis. It’s unfathomable to me how people survived through such horror. Wiesel spoke of a march they took while being held by the Nazis and how there were German civilians witnessing it as if it was background noise, ordinary, unremarkable. I will never, ever be able to understand how people could think so little of so much suffering or how so many ordinary people could be so brainwashed by a mad man. Their is a particular passage that brings tears to my eyes and sends chills down my spine. It’s written so perfectly that when reading it you can almost feel Wiesel’s pain and see all of the things that he saw.
“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust.
Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself.