Sunday, November 27, 2011

Night by Elie Wiesel

I am without words.

That this happened in a first world, educated, cultured, otherwise civilized 20th century society is incomprehensible. People in cattle-cars? The shooting of children? This is what happens when political/religious belief systems go unchecked, when the '-isms' become of greater importance than natural, logical, compassionate humanity.

Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were taken from their home in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to Buchenwald. Night is the terrifying record of Elie Wiesel's memories of the death of his family, the death of his own innocence, and his despair as a deeply observant Jew confronting the absolute evil of man. This new translation by his wife and most frequent translator, Marion Wiesel, corrects important detials and presents the most accurate rendering in English of Elie Wiesel's testimony to what happened in the camps and of his unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again. (back cover)

The trees were in bloom. It was a year like so many others, with its spring, its engagements, its weddings, and its births. The People were saying, "The Red Army is advancing with giant strides . . . Hitler will not be able to harm us, even if he wants to . . . " pg8

They ordered us to run. We began to run. Who would have thought that we could be so strong? From behind their windows, from behind their shutters, our fellow citizens watched as we passed. pg19

I pinched myself: was I still alive? Was I awake? How was it possible that men, women, and children were being burned and that the world kept silent? No. All this could not be real. A nightmare perhaps . . . Soon I would wake up with a start, my heart pounding, and find that I was back in the room of my childhood with my books . . . pg32

When at last a grayish light appeared on the horizon, it revealed a tangle of human shapes, heads sunk deeply between the shoulders, crouching, piled one on top of the other, like a cemetery covered with snow. In the early dawn light, I tried to distinguish between the living and those who were no more. But there was barely a difference. My gaze remained fixed on someone who, eyes wide open, stared into space. His colorless face was covered with a layer of frost and snow. pg98

Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere. pg119

15 comments:

Beth said...

Have you read Dawn and Day? Equally disturbing - and as moving and beautifully written.

Trish said...

No, I haven't read them yet but I will. His writing is indeed very moving. I got the sense that he did not particularly want to write the words, but had to to believe they happened at all. He kept wondering where were his neighbors and the rest of the world? How could anyone let this happen? And that this must all be a nightmare from which he'll soon wake. Writing his story was also a tribute to the people who did not survive.

He is a man of incredible courage, that's for sure.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

This is certainly a powerful book, it had a big impact on me when I read it too.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I sobbed through this book the first time I read it...you hit the nail on the head when you said "that this happened in a first world, educated, cultured otherwise civilized 20th century society is incomprehensible"

Trish said...

Sam - Powerful, yes. I kept having to stop reading and put the book down.

Peppermint Ph.D. - heartbreaking, wasn't it? I could hardly understand/believe what I was reading. Not only did I have to give myself reading breaks, I also had to reread portions to make sure I was reading the words correctly.

Kailana said...

I am without words is a good way to put it...

Trish said...

He is such a wonderful writer I hardly felt that anything I could say would do his story justice.

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

I really enjoyed this book. It is so touching.

Broche E.B. Fabian said...

I had to read this book sophomore year of highschool and was virtually inconsolable for a few weeks. My family is Jewish, and I really don't think the teacher understood what reading an account like this could do to someone whose family went through this, like reading a slave narrative for a family whose great-grandparents were slaves, or reading immigrant stories for people who are first-generation. There needs to be a greater consideration, I think, of when we read books like these, because they ARE so very powerful.

Trish said...

Alexis - He is a remarkable man, isn't he?

Broche - You make a very good point. Consideration in the way of offering a choice of books might be one way to for teachers to go about it.

Tracy said...

I just can't bear to read books or watch movies about the Holocaust.

Ruth S said...

Every time I read Elie Weisels writing I feel I am reading from the conscience of our time. To not only have the courage to survive but to also share the experience with us, no matter how awful, painful and ugly, is beyond my imagining. He is a hero in every sense

Trish said...

Tracy - understandable . . .

Ruth - Yes, and because he spoke for so many who could not, he was able to keep their courage and spirit alive within his pages.

Luxembourg said...

This was a great story, one of the few that actually made me remember this book for years and years. It is deep, and it shows what prejudistic and hateful people are, just for stupid reasons. It's like an adventure through everything the author wrote, and gone through himself.

Trish said...

It is an amazing personal account, isn't it?