Elie’s Wiesel and Night
Do you see that chimney over there? See it? Do you see those flames? Over there-
that’s where you’re going to be taken. That’s your grave, over there. Haven’t
you realize it yet? You dumb bastards, don’t you understand anything? You’re
going to be burned. Frizzed away. Turned into ashes.
Night is one of the masterpieces of Holocaust literature. It is the
autobiographical account of an adolescent boy and his father in Auschwitz. Elie
Wiesel writes of their battle for survival, and with his battle with God for a
way to understand the wanton cruelty he witnessed each day.
Elie Wiesel was born in a little, quiet town called Sighet, in transylvania
where he had lived all of his young life. Quiet until the 1940’s, when the city,
and eke himself charged for ever, just as Europe, and for that matter the world.
One day they expelled all the foreigners of the city, and Wiesels master in the
study of cabbala (Jewish mysticism) of a foreigner so he was expelled too.
The deportees were soon forgotten, he writes. However a few lines later he
explains why this is relevant, and gives the reader an idea of what was going on
in the minds of the jews living where he did.
He told his story (referring to the expelled Rabbi) and that of his companions.
The train full of deportees had crossed the Hungarian frontier and on Polish
territory had been taken in charge by the Gestapo. The jews had to get out and
climb into lorries. The lorries dove towards a forest. The jews were made to get
out. They were made to dig huge graves. And when they had finished their work,
the Gestapo began theirs. Without passion, without taste, they slaughtered their
prisoners. Each one had to go up to the hole and present its neck. Babies were
thrown into the air and the machine gunners used them as targets. . . Through
long days and nights, he went from one Jewish house to another, telling the
story Malke, the young girl who had taken three days to die, and of tabias, the
tailor, who had begged to be killed