Mid-America Christian University
HIST2203 American History II
Elie Wiesel, Night. (New York: Hill & Wang, 2006). Reviewed by Susan McMurray
Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania. At the age of fifteen he and his family were taken by the Nazis to Auschwitz concentration camp. Elie Wiesel was later taken to Buchenwald along with his father who died just before the camp was liberated. Following World War II, Wiesel studied to become a journalist and later wrote the book Night (1960). Since then he has authored over sixty fiction and non-fiction books. Night is part of a trilogy that includes Dawn (1961) and Day (1962). His most recent book, The Sonderburg Case (2010), is a novel about morality, guilt and innocence. Wiesel was appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978 as Chairman on the President’s Commission on the Holocaust. He has been honored worldwide with a number of awards. Among these awards are the U.S Presidential Medal of Freedom and the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. Wiesel has been a Professor at Boston University for many years. He and his wife Marion established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanities. (eliewieselfoundation.org, 2014)
Night is the narrative history of Eliezer, a Jewish teenager who, lives with his family in Transylvania. Eliezer spends most of his time studying Jewish Kabbalah with his teacher, Moshe the Beadle. Moshe is deported and returns to tell horrible stories about Gestapo and their atrocities against Jews. The Wiesel families along with other members of the community are forced into Ghettos to live until one day the “transports” arrived. The family was herded onto one of the last departing cattle cars; the nightmarish journey to Auschwitz is underway. Many die of starvation during the journey. Eliezer and his father are separated from his mother and sisters and deemed strong enough to be put to work. This is known as being “selected”. Eliezer is witness to open-pit furnaces where they are burning babies. The Jewish people are treated with unimaginable brutality in the concentration camps. Eventually, Eliezer and his father are put to work and subjected to savage beatings and unbelievable acts of humiliation. Eliezer witnesses the hanging of a child. They face torture and repeated beatings. Other men in the camp continue to call on God but Eliezer feels God is now absent and loses his faith, both in God and in humanity.
After months in the camp, the Nazis relocate the camp because of advancing Russians attempting to liberate the area. Eliezer undergoes an operation for a foot infection. Despite his injury and the excruciating pain, he along with the others begins a death march for over fifty miles to another concentration camp. Throughout the journey, Eliezer and his father relied on one another for support. Eliezer reunites with Juliek, who had been in the first concentration camp with him. Somehow Juliek had managed to keep his violin with him. Eliezer wakens one night to hear the sounds of a violin playing a concerto. In the morning, Juliek is dead and the violin is crushed. From there hundreds of Jews are herded onto the cattle cars again. Corpses are thrown off the train after they die. At one point Eliezer awakens his weakened…