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“Night” by Elie Wiesel Essay

Elie Wiesel, a famed author and survivor of the Holocaust stated quite simply that anyone who witnessed a crime, and did nothing to stop it is just as guilty as the one committing it. Elie Wiesel learned a lot about man’s nature by surviving the Holocaust, but his statement about a bystander being just as guilty as the actual criminal is wrong.

People are responsible for there own actions, and it is not fair to blame someone for a crime they did not commit, whether they could have done something to stop it or not. During the Holocaust there were over 6 million people persecuted, but there were many more silent bystanders who were unable to do anything because they feared for their lives. It is human nature to look after your own wellbeing and those closest to you, and many people felt if they tried to do something to stop the persecution of Jews it would endanger them in one way or another. In some cases somebody can witness a horrible atrocity, but have no power to stop it.

Elie wrote in his book about how he and his fellow Jews were forced to watch the hanging of a young and innocent child by the S.S. The Jews that witnessed the hanging of the boy were all silent bystanders who, according to Elie, should be punished in the same manner that the executioner was. This shows how wrong Elie’s judgment is. The Jews were unable to do anything to help the boy for fear of their own lives, people cannot be blamed for their most fundamental and primitive instinct which is self preservation.

Elie Wiesel experienced a lot of pain and suffering during the Holocaust, but the silent bystanders cannot be punished the same way the actual criminal is no matter what the circumstance is. If Elie truly believes that a silent bystander is just as guilty as a criminal, then that would mean that he is guilty of hanging a young innocent boy and deserves to be killed or sent to prison. Although it’s easy to see where Elie’s statement is coming from and why he chose to make it, it is clear that he made his statement more out of emotion than actual logic. I disagree with his judgment because silent bystanders do not always have the power to stop or intervene with the crime without endangering themselves.


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