Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Night - Elie Wiesel (January/06)

*Note: My reviews are going to be bit a sporadic until I catch up, but this book was good and I did a review on it for another site, so I am posting it before all the other books I have read.*

In 1933 in Germany a man by the name of Hitler was the leader of a whole country. In this year, one of the most horrific acts in history began, as this was the year that the first concentration camp opened in Germanay. This was before the large scale war that would become known as World War II, before Pearl Harbour, and before thousands of lives were given for the defense of their homes. At the time that Hitler came into power there were thousands of Jewish people living in his country, but by the end that number would have decreased drastically because of the inhumane treatment the Jewish citizens would receive from the opening of the first Concentration Camp in 1933 to the liberation 1945. This period and the treatment the Jewish, as well as other minorities received became known as the Holocaust.

Thinking back on the events of the Holocaust, most people know that people were burned alive, beaten, starved, and forced to receive every brutality known to man. Most people learn the events of the Holocaust by sitting in a classroom, as this horrible period is part of the world’s history because it went on for 12 years before anyone stopped it. Some countries will never forgive themselves for doing nothing while a race was decisively being erradicated. While you know these things, I do not believe that anyone can truly understand what it was like without actually being there or hearing the account of someone that suffered in those camps. That is what Elie Wiesel’s true tale Night does for me.

As the New York Times portrays on the front, this is “a slim volume of terrifying power.” And, it is only small, only about 122 pages depending on whether you count his speech when he won the Noble Peace Prize. I was amazed that such a little book could pack such a punch, but it did, and I think anyone that reads it will live with the events described in the book for the rest of their life. Night is about a boy, now a man, recollecting his time in one of Germany’s famous Concentration Camps. There are no secrets in the book, you know the minute you pick it up that people are going to die, that you are going to be sickened by the treatment the Jews received, and that you would never look at a chimney the same way again. Even so, knowing the outcome and what was to come I still find that this book touches the heartstrings and illuminates a dark period in history.

The Jewish troubles started off almost minor when you look at the big picture. They slowly lost their rights, had to wear a yellow star to be always recognized, and were put all together in squared off sections of the town. When you are reading about this in the book you think how horrible this must be, but it is nothing compared to the events that are about to transpire. You go with Elie from this discomforting part of his life to the concentration camps where they did not know where their next meal would come from and had to do everything in their power to stay alive until the next day. To always have the hope that the Red Army (Russians) were coming to their rescue. This hope was for many of them the only way that they managed to survive. That, and making sure that you never showed weakness and were spared from the flames that left the smell of burnt flesh in the air and a slow and painful death for those chosen.

Night is an amazing piece of work. I think for me one of the saddest things was watching people lose hope because without hope you were dead. The main character, Elie, lost faith in God throughout the book because how can you have faith in someone that lets you live like this. One of the things that he said that stuck with me came from the introduction where he said that it was not a miracle that he lived, it was little more than chance. If it was not for that chance, though, I would not have read one of the best non-fiction stories I have ever encountered and with these simple pages the memory of Elie and all the Jews that suffered for many years in Concentration Camps will never be forgotten.

This book was so profound to me I cannot give it anything other than a 5/5

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