Night is a memoire written by Eliezer Wiesel about his personal encounters as a Jewish teenager during the Holocaust. Eliezer was raised in an orthodox family in Sighet, Hungarian Transylvania. Night narrates Elie’s daily life in the camps until the point of his liberation from Buchenwald at age 16. Elie and his father as well as countless Jews were faced with struggles of survival, separation of family, never-ending hunger, torture and loss of faith.
Elie’s story began in 1944. The Nazis, who occupied Hungary, slowly began to increase repressive measures. Jews of Eliezer’s town were forced into the ghettos of Sighet. Soon after, all of the Jews are herded into cattle cars, where they were crammed for days without food or water as they made their way to Auschwitz.
Upon arrival to Birkeanu, the entrance to Auschwitz, Elie is separated from his mother and sister, not realizing that was the last time he would ever see them again. The Jews were evaluated just as livestock would be through a process called “selections,” where they were either immediately killed or put to work. Eliezer and his father passed the first of many evaluations.
Jews underwent dehumanization; they are stripped, shaved, disinfected and treated as livestock. As a result of living conditions, malnourishment, abuse and “selections,” the Jews numbers slowly depleted. Initially the Jewish prisoners cared for one another and found group solidarity despite their oppression.
Jewish prisoners were subject to daily beatings and humiliation. At one point Eliezer had a cruel foreman that forced Eliezer to pry out his gold tooth with a rusty spoon to protect his father from being subject to abuse. Prisoners were forced to watch as their fellow prisoners were hanged for crimes or associations with rebel groups, children were no exception. The conditions and will to survive in the camps turn the Jews against one another. Elie witnessed son’s abandon or abuse their fathers. Eliezer finds himself struggling with thoughts of abandoning his own father, loss of humanity and faith.
Throughout the suffering Elie and his father help each other survive by means of mutual support. Unfortunately, Eliezer’s father dies of dysentery and physical abuse. Not long after the American army liberated Elie’s camp in 1945.
Some of the most prominent themes in Night were faith, humanity, and bonds of family, particularly father son relationships.