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Wiesel’s Night Essay, Research Paper

Wiesel’s Night is about what the Holocaust did, not just to

the Jews, but by extension, to humanity. People all over the world

were devastated by this atrocious act, and there are still people

today who haven’t overcome the effects. One example of the heinous

acts of the Germans that stands out occurs at the end of the war, when

Elie and the rest of the camp of Buna is being forced to transfer to

Gleiwitz. This transfer is a long, arduous, and tiring journey for all

who are involved. The weather is painfully cold, and snow fell

heavily; the distance is greater than most people today will even

dream of walking. The huge mass of people is often forced to run, and

if one collapses, is injured, or simply can no longer bear the pain,

they are shot or trampled without pity. An image that secures itself

in Elie’s memory is that of Rabbi Eliahou’s son’s leaving the Rabbi

for dead. The father and son are running together when the father

begins to grow tired. As the Rabbi falls farther and farther behind

his son, his son runs on, pretending not to see what is happening to

his father. This spectacle causes Elie to think of what he would do if

his father ever became as weak as the Rabbi. He decides that he would

never leave his father, even if staying with him would be the cause of

his death.

The German forces are so adept at breaking the spirits of the

Jews that we can see the effects throughout Elie’s novel. Elie’s faith

in God, above all other things, is strong at the onset of the novel,

but grows weaker as it goes on. We see this when Elie’s father

politely asks the gypsy where the lavoratories are. Not only does the

gypsy not grace his father with a response, but he also delivers a

blow to his head that sent him to the floor. Elie watches the entire

exhibition, but doesn’t even blink. He realizes that nothing, not even

his faith in God, can save him from the physical punishment that would

await him if he tried to counterattack the gypsy. If the gypsy’s

attack had come just one day earlier, Elie probably would have struck

back. However, the effect of the spiritual beating by the Germans was

already being felt.

The incident that perhaps has the greatest effect on Elie is

the hanging of the pipel. He is a young boy with an “innocent face”

who is condemned to death because he is implicated in a conspiracy

which results in a German building being destroyed. When the time for

the hanging approaches, the Lagerkapo refuses to kick out the chair,

so SS officers are assigned to do it. Unlike the necks of those he is

hanged with, the young boy’s neck does not break when he falls, and he

suffers for over a half-hour. The suffering of the child is comparable

to the suffering endured by many Jews during the Holocaust. He fought

for his life, at times even seeing a bit of hope, only to be destroyed

in the end. The Jews fought for everything they had, from their

possessions at the beginning, to their lives at the end. The result,

however, was the same.

At the end of the war, Elie looks into the mirror, and says he

saw “a corpse.” This “corpse” is Elie’s body, but it has been robbed

of its soul. This is similar to the loss suffered by people all over

the world. Those not directly involved with the Holocaust were still

alive physically, but their mind and spirit had long been dead. By the

end of the war, Elie loses all of his faith in God and his fellow man,

and this is the most difficult obstacle to overcome when he is

released.

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