The dehumanization of Eliezer by the Nazis in Night by Elie Wiesel In Night, by Elie Wiesel, a young boy, by the name of Eliezer, becomes a victim of the Nazi’s cruelty and abuse. Because of the abusive treatment Eliezer witnesses and endures at the hands of the Nazis during WWII, he is stripped of his former self forever. No longer is he the secure, connected and loved young man whose faith in God is unshakable; instead, he is a disillusioned shell of a man who has lost family, God, and the belief in human goodness.
By ruthlessly stealing from Eliezer his tangible possessions, his family, his community, and his name, the Nazis cause Eliezer to lose his connection to his security and identity connected to family, place, and tradition. As Eliezer is entering Birkenau, a camp in Auschwitz, the Nazis say, “Men to the left! Women to the right! “(29) Eliezer thought to himself, “I didn’t know that this was the moment in time and place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever. “(29) And that is how the Nazis steal Eliezer’s family. The loss that he feels is conveyed when he says, “My hand tightened its grip on my father.
All I could think of was not to lose him. Not to remain alone. “(30) This shows how the stealing of his family by the Nazis affected him, he has the fear of being left alone and Eliezer’s feelings of comfort, love, happiness, and safety, which were connected to his family, were taken. Eliezer was surrounded by family and the security that came along, but after that was taken from him, he lost his sense of security and identity, which family make up. His family shapes him and his views and beliefs, but with no family he is lost. Also, at the time when Eliezer is entering the camp, all of his few and dear belonging are also taken from him.
The beloved objects that we had carried with us from place to place where now left behind in the wagons… ” (29) Also later on, the Nazis also steal his clothes and hair. Ultimately, every Jew is now left with nothing, but themselves. This is pointed out when Eliezer says, “For us it meant true equality: nakedness. “(35) Simply, it is the loss of one’s personal belongings and self. All of his objects, hair, and his clothes are taken from him, now he has no sense of being or identity; since, those are the objects that molded him to what he is and now he has lost them and losing his sense of belonging, to base himself on, to be himself.
After the separation between families, the Jews fate is decided by either going left or right. As Eliezer went left he sees the burning of innocent children. “Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. “(34) By witnessing this, Eliezer’s childhood is stolen from him. The affect that this had on him is modeled by, “(Is it any wonder that ever since then, sleep tends to elude me? )”(32) The vacancy that Eliezer feels as his childhood is swept way, is filled with fear and nightmare of the horrors he witnesses.
This event caused Eliezer to transform from a hopeful, energetic, happy, and faithful young man into a much more fearful, scared, and mature young man, in a very short time. Eliezer’s self was lost after his sense of security and self was altered as a cause of seeing children being burned. This creates a void within him of humanity and his childhood. After the intermediate settling of the Jews for one night, in the camp, Auschwitz, the Nazis also steal their name and give them a number. “The three ‘veteran’ prisoners, needles in hand, tattooed numbers on our left arms.
I became A-7713. “(42) And the effect of this is, “from then on, I had no other name. “(42) This causes loss of identity due to the removal of an important and fundamental part of one’s character, his name. His name means much greater to Eliezer, than a simple name to be called by, it means family, life, origin, and his whole existence. The replacement of his name with a number indicates that Eliezer is not a human being, but merely a number. The stealing of Eliezer’s possessions had a great effect on him whether within a short time period or over the years.
Because of the killings, beatings, and starvation Eliezer either sees or experiences, he loses his faith in God. As a result, he is now a despondent young man who finds no value in prayer and no longer believes that living a good life means life will be good. After the daily work and roll call in front of everyone, as a punishment, anyone who disobeys the Nazis will be killed. And so, Eliezer witnesses the hanging of Pipel, a small child. “And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. (65) How could God allow this cruelty? “And from within me, I heard a voice answer: Where He is? This is where-hanging here from this gallows… “” (65) The idea of god allowing the hanging of a child for no reason reduces Eliezer’s belief in God’s protection and safety. As well as Eliezer’s overall sense of justice, stability, and fairness are much shaken. The burning of the innocent children in the beginning as he went left as a decision for his fate.
“Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. (34) Why would Eliezer believe in a God that allows innocent children to be burned? At the end of the summer and Jewish year, ‘Why, but why would I bless him? Every fiber in me rebelled. Because He caused thousands of children to burn in his mass graves? Because He kept six crematories working day and night… ” (67) How could god allow such things as those of burning innocent children? How could Eliezer have any faith in god if this is happening to those people who pray to him? Also the event in which a son kills his father because of starvation startled Eliezer and shakes his ideals of family, as well.
As people throw bread at the Jews, in wagons, “Meir, my little Meir! Don’t you recognize me? … You’re killing your father… I have bread for you too… for you too… ” (101) How could God allow all of this starvation? Enough torture and starvation to cause a son to kill his father for food! How could anything be right anymore? If God could not even shelter the Jews from the Nazis, what will happen between us and those closest to us? How could Eliezer have faith in god, if all of his family ideals have been swept away by the abuse and destruction of the Nazis?
No wonder all of those killings, beatings, and starvation Eliezer witnesses causes his loss of faith in God. Because of the constant environment of fear the Nazis force on Eliezer to endure, Eliezer’s focus on his own survival diminishes his former ability to feel compassion for others who are abused. When Jews first enter the blocks, “… he slapped my father with such force that he fell down and crawled back to his place on all fours. ” (39) The fear is created of the Nazis and of doing anything the Nazis didn’t saw to do.
Eliezer’s focus on his own survival is displayed by, “If only I were relieved of this responsibility, I could use all my strength to fight for my own survival, to take care only of myself… ” (106) Eliezer said this as he was looking for his father; his father is very weak, childish, and old. Eliezer’s inability to feel compassionate for his father is displayed by, “what had happened to me? My father had just been struck, in front of me, and I had not even blinked,” (39) Eliezer says this after his father has been hit, showing the quick change of how the fear of the Nazis affected him.
The fear created and possessed by the Nazis causes Eliezer not to be compassionate with his father due to his fear of getting beaten as well. The fear caused him to change over only one night at the camp. The starvation lead to man to dare his life for some soup that was left unattended, “two lambs without a shepherd, free for the taking. But who would dare? ” (59) But for the rest of the Jews, “Fear was greater than hunger. ” (59) This showed the amount of fear present because of the Nazis was greater than starvation itself.
Eliezer shows his inability to express compassion when he says, “That was when we started to hear the planes. ” (59) The quick shift of attention between the death of an inmate and another event was too quick, which shows no compassion provided by Eliezer, as if nothing has just happened. Eliezer didn’t care what happened to the man because one, they were jealous for the soup, but the fear limited them, because of fear of life from the Nazis.
The continuous threats and punishments displayed in front of the Jews also strengthened the fear of the Nazis. “… risoner number… is condemned to death. Let this be a warning and an example to all prisoners. ” (62) This was said by the Nazis before the hanging of a man for disobeying the Nazis. Eliezer on focused on his survivor, that he just wanted the hanging to be over so that he could go eat his soup, “I remembered that on that evening, the soup tasted better than ever… ” (62) That is also proven how killings didn’t matter as much anymore to Eliezer, “the 1,000’s of people who died daily in Auschwitz and Birkenau, in the crematoria, no longer troubled me. (63)
He only cared about himself, because all the people who die and the compassion that he would feel for them would not help me to survive. Eliezer’s concentration on survival and how often everyone is killed, no longer matters to him; he views it, the more dead, and the more possibility of more soup for me. All the pressure and constant fear Eliezer is put under, creates a greater attention to his survival than his human feelings like compassion toward those who die. In conclusion, Eliezer was affected greatly by many things he was exposed to in the holocaust.
He is stripped of his former self forever. He no longer is a secure young man who has great faith in God; instead, he loses his family, God, and the belief in human goodness. The treatment he sees/experiences, affected him emotionally, mentally, and physically. The lack of food has changed his body greatly; his constant exposure to beatings and killings had harmed him emotionally as he stopped feeling compassionate due to his need to focus on his own survival. He was harmed mentally because his shock about how someone can do this to human beings.