One of my summer reading books for this year happened to be a book I had been wanting to read for a while now. I was sitting in class, learning about the Holocaust and we happened to learn about the author of the book. Ever since I had learned that there was a book about the truth behind the Holocaust, I had wanted to read it. I finally read it, and let me tell you, it is amazing!
Author: Elie Wiesel
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Pages: 120 (Paperback)
Night is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–1945, at the height of the Holocaust and toward the end of the Second World War. In just over 100 pages of sparse and fragmented narrative, Wiesel writes about the death of God and his own increasing disgust with humanity, reflected in the inversion of the father–child relationship as his father declines to a helpless state and Wiesel becomes his resentful teenage caregiver.
Penetrating and powerful, as personal as The Diary Of Anne Frank, Night awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.
About the Author: Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel was a Romanian-born American Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor. He was the author of 57 books, written mostly in French and English, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. Along with writing, he was a professor of the humanities at Boston University, which created the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies in his honor. He was involved with Jewish causes, and helped establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. In his political activities he also campaigned for victims of oppression in places like South Africa and Nicaragua and genocide in Sudan. He publicly condemned the 1915 Armenian genocide and remained a strong defender of human rights during his lifetime. He had been described as “the most important Jew in America” by the Los Angeles Times. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, at which time the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a “messenger to mankind,” stating that through his struggle to come to terms with “his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler’s death camps”, as well as his “practical work in the cause of peace”, Wiesel had delivered a message “of peace, atonement and human dignity” to humanity. He was a founding board member of the New York Human Rights Foundation and remained active throughout his life.
The History of the Holocaust:
The Holocaust also known as the Shoah, was a genocide in which Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany and its collaborators killed about six million Jews. The victims included 1.5 million children and represented about two-thirds of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe. Some definitions of the Holocaust include the additional five million non-Jewish victims of Nazi mass murders, bringing the total to about 11 million. Killings took place throughout Nazi Germany, German-occupied territories and territories held by allies of Nazi Germany. From 1941 to 1945, Jews were systematically murdered in one of the deadliest genocides in history, which was part of a broader aggregate of acts of oppression and killings of various ethnic and political groups in Europe by the Nazi regime. Every arm of Germany’s bureaucracy was involved in the logistics and the carrying out of the genocide. Other victims of Nazi crimes included ethnic Poles, Soviet citizens and Soviet POWs, other Slavs, Romanis, communists, homosexuals, Freemasons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the mentally and physically disabled. A network of about 42,500 facilities in Germany and German-occupied territories was used to concentrate victims for slave labor, mass murder, and other human rights abuses. Over 200,000 people are estimated to have been Holocaust perpetrators. The persecution and genocide were carried out in stages, culminating in what Nazis termed the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”, an agenda to exterminate Jews in Europe. Initially the German government passed laws to exclude Jews from civil society, most prominently the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. Nazis established a network of concentration camps starting in 1933 and ghettos following the outbreak of World War II in 1939. In 1941, as Germany conquered new territory in eastern Europe, specialized paramilitary units called Einsatzgruppen murdered around two million Jews and “partisans”, often in mass shootings. By the end of 1942, victims were being regularly transported by freight trains to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, most were systematically killed in gas chambers. This continued until the end of World War II in Europe in April–May 1945.
This book, let me tell you, will make you feel all the feels. The book includes things that even textbooks don’t tell you. You read about so many things that you would have never guessed would happen during the Holocaust like:
- During a transportation trip, they couldn’t move but they were really thirsty, so they took their spoons and ate the snow off of each others back
- The Jews think they ate people – once there was a dead corpse and when they ate, it was gone
- The Americans came to help them? Even I didn’t know that
In the book, Elie writes about his dad since he was with his dad a lot. Elie’s dad was one of the characters that you can’t help but enjoy. Elie depended on his dad for a lot, like during the New Year, when you were supposed to fast but Elie didn’t know if he should or not. Elie listened to his dad and ate on the day of fasting. Elie lost his mom and three sisters so he really didn’t have anyone else there. Elie’s dad began to disappear in the book near the end of it. He started to look really old and sick. Elie wanted people to help his dad but they couldn’t help him. It ended up being dysentery, which is an inflammation of the intestine causing diarrhea with blood. Sadly he died either January 28, during the night or the morning of January 29.
When you read about the death of his father, you feel like you knew the guy personally. I felt like crying, which I did because I enjoyed his father so much. You knew it was coming but it was one of those things that you kept denying. His dad was always there to lighten the mood, which he did. He was amazing.
Elie also speaks about the conditions of the transportation of all of them. When he was taken to the camps, he talked about how the SS stuffed 80 people into each vehicle. Firstly, I was hit with disgust because there are 80 people, all pushed up against each other. Then I was hit with question since I started to wonder why they didn’t have the people walk to the camps. They had a plan to kill them so why not make them walk everywhere. By the end of the book, Elie puts that they put 100 people in each vehicle because they had gotten so small/skinny in the time there. It’s sad to know that they lost so much weight in the time they were there that they could fit 20 more people in each car.
There is this one quote that was in the book that will always, always stay with me. The quote is powerful, and is one of the best things I have ever read in the whole world. The quote read:
“For in the end, it is all about memory, its sources and its magnitude, and, of course, its consequences.”
The quote speaks to me. A quote has never been so powerful in my life. The quote talks about how no matter how long something or someone is gone, you will always have their memory, no matter if it is good or bad. My grandfather passed away a few years ago and I really never got to know him, since I was so young. He was one of those people that he would have his good days and his bad days. But out of everything, I remember some of the stupidest things about him. Even though he is gone, I still have the memory of him, and it will always be there.
I would give this book a 4.8 out of 5. The book is fabulously written, with a depth that most authors can’t achieve in their life time. I think I might have enjoyed this book so much since I do enjoy learning about World War 1 and 2, which the Holocaust occurred in.The one thing I did not like is not knowing the German words that was included in the book. The words did make the book feel real but I sometimes got annoyed because of it. I also enjoyed that it included parts of his religious beliefs in the book. He talks about about how if God was really looking out for them, they would have been out by now, which was the New Year. The first chapter talks about his dad asking him why he cried when he prayed every night, which I thought was a great touch. The book was written amazingly, and in my book, considered one of the best books written in the world.
Who Should Read This Book:
I believe everyone should read this book at least once in their life. This is a book that makes you change your mind of the world, and makes you happy that this isn’t happening to you. It opens your mind to thoughts that you have never thought about since it is so personal. Your heart goes out to these people since you now know everything that has happened to them, even if you don’t have a soul. The book doesn’t feel like you are reading an autobiography, it reads like fiction, which I do enjoy. Even if you don’t like learning about History, like me, you will enjoy this book. But like I said, the book is one that everyone should read in their life.
What is your favorite autobiography, or history book? What is your favorite part about History that you like learning about? Is this a book that you have read or now want to read, even though I spoiled part of the book for you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!