Night, by Elie Wiesel is a memoir of his life during World War II. He lived in a small town in Sighet, Transylvania. He lived with his family consisting of his mother, father, and little sister, Tzipora. The family were a happy family, not rich, not poor. Elie or Eliezer was very religious, more than his parents wanted him to be. He wanted to have a teacher to teach him the studies of cabbala. His religion was quite common in his town, many of his friends were Jewish too.
All of these luxuries changed when the German army invaded his town.
At first, the Germans were not cruel to the Jews, however after a while the Jewish people of Sighet started to see many restrictions such as having to wear a yellow star on their clothes. Soon, there was a ghetto that formed in the town, and then deportation came. Elie and his family had to travel to Poland in a cramped boxcar.
After days of traveling, Elie and his family reached their destination; Auschwitz concentration camp. His mother and sister were separated from his father and himself and Elie later found out they were sent to the gas chambers.
The Jewish people were a civilized people with rich culture, however the war brought them to their downfall. Elie was truly infatuated with his religion, Judaism. Normally, when a fellow Jew dies, friends and family must sing the Kaddish in memory of their beloved. It is very strict how and when they must recite the song for the dead, especially when one requests that his friends sing it for him.
When Elie’s friend, Akiba Drumer, another very religious Jew, told the block that it was his time to go and he can’t go on anymore. He said that three days after he is taken away to the gas chambers, that they must sing the Kaddish for him.
“We promised him. In three days’ time, when we saw the smoke rising from the chimney, we would think of him. Ten of us would gather together and hold a special service. All his friends would say the Kaddish. ” (Wiesel 73) Then the trucks came for Akiba, “… we were crushed by work. And three days after he had gone we forgot to say the Kaddish. ” (Wiesel 73) After making a commitment and promise to Akiba, Elie and his friends didn’t say the Kaddish. Had not there been a war, Akiba’s friends would have kept to their word. The work and torturing of the Germans brought the Jews to be against their principals and laws.
Throughout all Judaic texts, the father is a very important person in the family. What the father says will be done. A father is key to the existence of his son, and therefore the son should respect and care for his father. Elie and his father were the only survivors of Auschwitz in their family. The Germans found out that the Russians were advancing and so they ordered all inmates march to a more west location. The Germans made the inmates walk a very long way until they reached cattle cars and then came to another concentration camp in Germany, Buchenwald.
Elie and his father were very weak when they got to Buchenwald, Elie recently had surgery on his pus-filled foot which didn’t get enough time to recover so when he walked on the snow it would turn red. His father was also weak and very thin. After a few days of being in Buchenwald, his father became very sick. “He grew weaker day by day, his gaze veiled, his face the color of dead leaves. ” (Wiesel 102) Elie tried to get the help of doctors, however his father was not getting any better. “‘Listen to me, boy. Don’t forget your in a concentration camp. Here, every man has to fight for himself and not think of anyone else. Even of his father.
Here, there are no fathers, no brothers, no friends. ‘” (Wiesel 105) Elie was told to let his father die in his hands by the kapo of the block. After all that Elie was taught, he was now told to leave his father and let him die. The next morning he found his father’s bunk taken by a stranger. The Jews were and have always been a religious people that play an extensive part in world history. In the Bible, the Jews are God’s chosen people. Before World War II, many Jews were in prominent positions, owning large companies and industries. They lived pretty much a comfortable lifestyle and enjoyed the luxuries of middle and high class peoples.
However, in Night, the exact opposite is shown. “One day when we had stopped, a workman took a piece of bread out of his bag and threw it into the wagon. There was a stampede. Dozens of starving men fought each other to the death for a few crumbs. ” (Wiesel 95) How could the once civilized and rich-cultured people act so savagely? The war brought famine and starvation which brought the worst out of everyone, especially the Jewish people. The men all grabbed at each other and would do anything to get a little piece of bread. “‘Meir. Meir, my boy! Don’t you recognize me?
I’m your father… your hurting me… your killing your father! ‘” (Wiesel 96) In such conditions, how could a son beat and kill his father for just a piece of bread? The war brought this disease of starvation, and that in turn brought the Jews to their fall. I recommend this book to anyone that likes to read about people during the Holocaust, or World War II. The book is a constant reminder, even the title, which the Jewish people used to be as civilized and mannered like day. However after and during the war, they have fallen to night.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Bantam Books, 1982.