Elie Wiesel’s haunting account in Night brought to the fore the depth of cruelty and callousness of man to his fellowman. This is no ordinary account; it is the harsh, unbelievable terror that was unleashed in the 1930’s and into the 1940’s. Perhaps what is most daunting for the reader is the reality that this actually happened. It happened to millions and the world did not stop spinning. From the narration of events Elie so clearly put forward the despair, the loss of hope and faith and the anguish experienced. It made me shiver it made me ask myself questions like if I were to have been in that camp or any of thr concentration camps what would my thought processes be? Would I still believe in the existence of God? Would I be so shaken to my core that I lose all trust in the good of any man? Would I ever be able to forgive the trangressions against my body and my mind? Would there be healing? Would I ever sleep at night?
As I read of his feeble conscience and the fleeting thoughts that his father had become a burden to him I wondered whether my survival would not mean more to me than any other person’s when it really came to making a choice. Would I not be more concerned about myself as self-preservation requires? Leaving everyone to survive on their own? Would I kill for a piece of bread?
The fear was palpable and thesmell of death was ever present; death resided in those camps. It is unimaginable that anyone could have lived amd survived the agonizing treatment. Needless to say I shed tears, needless to say my heart was heavy, needless to say that the questions this account has evoked in me will not be silenced in a hurry especially in these times when it appears that man is returning to the age of selfishness and superiority.
There are no words weighty enough or worthy enough to describe what happened. Man was reduced to seeking only basic needs of food and shelter and even those were neither readily available nor adequate. I read the account and I shuddered in wonder-how low could man descend in his conviction of himself as superior? How easily did man permit hatred and contempt for his fellow man to grow?
I am finding it increasingly difficult to put my feelings into words so I will leave you with this excerpt from the book:
“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes. Never shall I forget those things even where I condemned to live as God Himself. Never”.
Have you read Night? Will you? What are your thoughts on forgiveness? Leave your comments below.