I vaguely remember most of the books I was made to read in high school. I trudged through them completely uninterested. “Night,” by Elie Wiesel, was a different story. I was captivated from page one and still remember it vividly to this day.
“Night” is an autobiographical account of Elie Wiesel’s time in a concentration camp during World War II. He starts from the beginning, before the German troops appeared in their town of Sighet, Transylvania. The people of his town were optimistic. They heard the rumors, but they remained hopeful. Surely the Nazi’s couldn’t wipe out an entire group of people.
Then one day the German soldiers suddenly appeared on the streets and Elie’s life, and the lives of his family, would never be the same. The world was about to change forever.
Wiesel describes in great detail the confusion and uncertainty and remaining hope on the trains. Even though they were terrified, they held on to a last glimmer of hope that everything was going to be OK. Then they arrived at Auschwitz, and all hope left them forever.
Wiesel’s terrifying account of human cruelty is something I’ve never been able to forget. I can still vividly remember the misery and suffering, the evil and brutality, the sadness and desolation. From the starvation, to the smells of burning flesh, to the horrifying sights he saw everyday, Wiesel doesn’t sugar-coat or soften any of his experiences.
This book is heartbreaking and unbelievably sad. Even Wiesel’s survival is sad. How do you go on living after such an experience? How do you find happiness after you watch so many people murdered before your eyes? How do you ever believe in a God that could allow this to happen? Wiesel raises all of the questions, but never answers them. There is no happy ending, even if you survive an experience like this. Wiesel’s horrifying memories and unbearable pain bleed through on every page.
Wiesel’s story is one voice speaking for thousands who experienced something most of us can’t imagine. Wiesel speaks about why he wrote this story in the prologue. His only ambition for sharing his experience is to pass along the message that this can never happen again. He did not speak of his experiences for years. He found no solace or comfort from sharing the unimaginable cruelty he suffered. He only felt the need to share so the world wouldn’t forget.
Everyone should read this book. Everyone should hear his words and listen to his description of the most horrifying human cruelty. “Night” will stay with you for the rest of your life, and you will never regret reading Wiesel’s terrifying account.
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