The Holocaust is amongst the major inhumane genocide acts undertaken in the second world war by the Nazis from Germany with the aid of their collaborators against the European Jews. This is brought to light through the documentation and narration of the events that took place in this period by Elie Wiesel, who at the time of these incidences was only at fifteen years old. Wiesel was a lucky survivor of concentration camps established by the Nazis. He originated from Northern Transylvania, before the Nazis raided their residence in 1944, for him to be relocated to a concentration camp in Birkenau and Auschwitz (Wiesel). Wiesel witnessed events and processes undertaken by the Nazis from the attack, capture, transportation of the Jews to the concentration chambers, torture, and the termination of the Jewish population before the US army came to their liberation in 1945 (Hirsch and Irene). After this, he studied literature and later pursued his dream as a journalist, which gave him an opportunity to interview Francois Mauriac, who challenged him to tell his tragic youth story to the rest of the world. Hence the essay will establish the events and experiences such as
The Holocaust raid in Hungary led to the separation of families after their deportation to Auschwitz. One of the scenarios identified from the narrations by Wiesel is the separation of families, where, after the strike in 1944, most of the population focused on fighting for their survival rather than moving in with their family members in the transport cabins. According to Ruth 31, Wiesel and his father were separated from his family during the raid, where later, he was also separated from his father, who was assigned to rigorous labour. Wiesel being an underage boy was entitled to family support and care in a typical setup (Wiesel). However, the experiences undergone after the raid denied him this chance, forcing him to learn and grow on his own. Further, the separation from their parents seemed permanent after the intervention and released efforts from the US army, where he came to terms that his mother died in the process. Such instances indicate some of the experiences undergone by the Jews during the Holocaust, which Elie Wiesel describes as unforgettable and which the subjects ought to bear witness to in their life.
Additionally, the instances of mass murder especially in the concentration camps present an unforgettable experience for those that witnessed the Holocaust. The first event identified detailing on the murder undertaken by the Nazis is the death of Wiesel's mother in the concentration camps. For instance, Wiesel had witnessed his father's death as he begged him for water. Ruth 30 states that at this point, Elie could see his father breathe his final breaths after the soldier wielded a violent club blow to his father's head to terminate him. This represents a personal experience from the author as he tries to narrate how inhumane the act by the Nazis and their aids was at that time. Consequently, during their stay in the extermination camps, the author expresses the high rate of murder, especially at night. Wiesel suggests that their time was lingering between life and death and they witnessed the murder of their members who were hanged and left to die a painful death (Ruth 32). Moreover, he explains an instance where he could see the men's red tongue and non-extinguished eyes as he passed past the hanged men, who were left to languish and die by the Nazis soldiers. Wiesel also suggests that during that night, their soup tasted of corpses (Ruth 32). These instances indicated how the Nazis were not concerned with the lives of the captured Jews, who were murdered for their pleasure and fun. Hence, those who had such experiences cannot erase such memories other than bear witness to them for the rest of the world.
Additionally, Wiesel experienced the torture and termination of children during the transportation period and their time at the extermination camps. In a typical war, the army spares women and teenage children due to their sensitivity in the society. However, the Nazis did not recognize this principle; rather, they went forward to murder toddlers at their will (Hirsch and Irene). For example, Wiesel in Maurice 28, states the events witnessed, where a child would be hanged to death. The author describes it as a death of God, which represented the emptiness of the soul and the darkness of the Nazis souls. Further, Maurice 15 expresses an instance where toddlers were burned alive in pits as the people in the surrounding murmured the Kaddish- which is a Jewish prayer dedicated to the dead. The scenario almost triggered Wiesel into murdering before the survival instincts set up. This is one of the motivations for Elie Wiesel to write his book and narrate the experiences undergone under the Nazis regime. This also represented an event that has always ringed in his thoughts, and which he believed that anyone who experiences it should not keep quiet, but rather witness it to others.
The Nazis used to torment and brutalize the Jews in their time at the concentration camps. Some of the acts were inhumane, and Wiesel considered them unworthy to be subjected to a living person who has rights and privileges. For instance, the Nazis force the Jews to undertake morning runs for seventy kilometres without rest and also gallop through the snow, which formed a pool of suffering and death scare to the prisoners (Maurice 19). Consequently, the Nazis tried to eradicate the family bond existing amongst the captured Jews members by subjecting them to extreme survival needs and desperation. During their finals journey stages, the Nazis workers would starve the Jews to death and then throw few pieces of bread to them into their travel wagons. This forced the slaves to kill each other as they tried to get a taste of the bread's crumb. In some instances, young men would kill their fathers as they fought to satisfy their stomach needs (Maurice 19). This exhibited how the family bonds were broken as the Nazi soldiers enjoyed themselves to these scenes of murder as the Jews fought for their lives. Hence, such inhumane instances and experiences were severe and cannot be quickly erased from the heads of those who witnessed them, who are also expected to bear witness to them.
Moreover, the actions undertaken by the Nazis led to the dilution of the belief and faith that the local Jews held for their religion and God. The Jews held strong faith in God and were considered a religious community. However, the resultant torture undergone through the hands of the Nazi soldiers prompted some of them to doubt the consistency and assurance of God's protection. For example, Ruth 30, exhibits an instance where some of the members started referring to their trust in God as an illusion. They even considered their belief and illusion to be the source or the cause of their suffering and ordeals. Further, some of the believers questioned the presence of their God and wondered why He would desert them during their desperate times when they need him the most. The murder of the little meshores also created doubt on the ability of their God to act during their desperate times. The Nazis thus forced the Jews to abandon their faith and question the effectiveness of their God, which can be identified as a direct dictation or determination of their spiritual belief. Thereby, such an instance is significant to the history of the Jewish religion, making it a duty for those who experienced it to bear witness to it.
In conclusion, the essay has established the events and experiences such as the separation of families after their deportation, mass murder in concentration camps, torture and termination of children, torment and brutalization of the Jews, and dilution of the belief and faith as the experiences that need to be witnessed. For instance, after the strike in 1944, most of the population focused on fighting for their survival rather than moving in with their family members in the transport cabins. Wiesel also witnessed his father's death as he begged him for water, where afterwards a soldier wielded a violent club blow to his father's head and terminate him. Additionally, the Nazi soldiers killed a large number of toddlers, with the largest scenario represented by the mass pit burning of the children. The Jews were also brutalized through acts such as seventy-kilometer morning runs and starvation games. Finally, the degradation of the Jewish religion by subjecting them to harsh and degrading situations to create doubt in their God. Therefore, such instances need to be witnessed to by those who had experienced it.
Hirsch, Marianne, and Irene Kacandes, eds. Teaching the Representation of the Holocaust. Modern Language Association of America, 2004.
Maurice, Blanchot. Political Writings, 1953-1993. Fordham Univ Press, 2010.
Ruth, Franklin. A thousand darknesses: Lies and truth in Holocaust fiction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Wiesel, Elie. Night: A Memoir. Hill and Wang, 2017.
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