The book Night, by Elie Wiesel, is an autobiography about his experiences during the Holocaust. The story takes place in the 1940’s. The main characters are Elie and his father. Other characters are Elie’s mother and sister. In the beginning of the book, trouble is starting around the town in which Elie lived. Eventually German soldiers come into his town. At first, they did not seem so bad. The Kahn’s, a family who lived across the street from Elie, were housing a German soldier. The Kahn’s said that the German was quiet, but polite.
As time went on, the Germans forced all Jews to live in ghettos. This hardship was easier for the Wiesel’s because their house was located inside where the ghetto was going to be set up. Initially, the Jews were able to have their own government and police system. After living in this ghetto for a while, the Germans forced them to relocate into a new ghetto some miles down the road. This new ghetto did not last very long and the Jews were forced to move again. The Germans forced the Jews to board a train and travel to a concentration camp.
Elie, Elie’s mom, father, and sister all boarded a train heading for the concentration camp called Auschwitz. When they arrived, the SS separated the men from women. This was the last time Elie saw his mother and sister ever again. From this time on, Elie only had his father to protect him. The person in charge of their barrack was fairly nice because he treated the Jews like human beings. They were able to eat thick soup with bread, and were occasionally allowed to drink black coffee as well. Since they had no real jobs, what they mainly did was sleep.
Elie and his father stayed in Auschwitz for three weeks. At the end of three weeks, the person in charge of their barracks was executed for being too humane. Elie, his father, and many other Jews were forced to go to a new concentration camp. Their destination was a camp called Buna. When the Jews arrived in Buna the camp looked like “it had suffered an epidemic”. The camp looked empty and dead. Elie’s job here was to count bolts, bulbs, and fix small electrical lighting fixtures in a room where German soldiers ate and listened to music performed by Jewish musicians.
Elie was beaten after witnessing the rape of a young Jewish girl by the leader of Elie’s barracks. There were occasional air raids during Elie’s stay in this camp. The prisoners believed that the Germans were losing ground against the Americans. Soon, there were rumors going around that the Red Army was advancing on Buna, and it would only be a matter of hours before the army liberated the camp. The following morning, the SS evacuated Buna. The Jews were forced to run in the snow for forty-two miles. If someone stopped he would be shot. After forty-two miles of running they were able to rest.
Elie and his father went into a factory and sat down for a little while. After an hour, the SS officers forced them to get up and continue on their march. They eventually reached a camp called Gleiwitz. Elie and his father spent three days in Gleiwitz. During this time there was no food or water supplied to the Jews. In the evening of the fourth day, a train arrived to transport the Jews to yet another concentration camp. The trains were cattle wagons, with no roofs. The train would occasionally stop to dump the corpses of the people who had died.
There was no food supplied on the train. One time, a German workman threw a piece of bread into the wagon. It caused a huge commotion since the people had not eaten in a long time. Their destination was reached late one night. They had arrived at Buchenwald. Everyone was told to go to the showers, but Elie’s father did not go. Instead, he collapsed on the ground and refused to move. In the morning, Elie went looking for his father, and found him in the infirmary. On January 29 Elie’s father was carried down to the crematory where he died.
On April 11 the Americans finally liberated the camp. Elie was free. Soon after he left the camp, Elie became diagnosed with food poisoning. When he became well again he looked at himself in the mirror and saw a corpse. That image never left him. This was a very good book. I thought it was very interesting to read about what happened during the holocaust through the point of view of a survivor. I liked the fact that the narrator, at the beginning of the story, was a child. However, as the story progressed, the narrator evolved into a man.
This was apparent when Elie withstood a beating from the leader of his barrack. Had he been a child he would have died. I believe that it must have been very hard for Elie Wiesel to write about his experiences during this difficult time period of his life. I was impressed by the way Elie Wiesel presented two views of an occurrence. For instance, when Elie was being beaten you heard not only his thoughts, but also those of his father. I really enjoyed reading Night because it represented an important time in the history of the Jewish people. In order to learn from the past, we must know the past.