Mankind’s Ability to Survive in Elie Wiesel’s Night
In Elie Wiesel’s Night, he tells of how his family went from being just a regular family in a small town called Sighet, Romania to being thrown into a concentration camp and split apart and then how he and his father were treated and how he got out. Through the novel, Wiesel and his family go from living like regular people living in their home to being in the “ghetto”, then transported on cramped train cars to Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp for Jewish people.
He tells us of what he and his father went through and also tells us of his getting out of the camp. The novel starts out in Sighet, Romania. The small town where Elie Wiesel grew up as a young boy. He grew up with two older sisters and a younger sister. There is an old beggar there that people call Moishe the Beadle. Wiesel spent a lot of time with this man as he had faith and wanted to someone to help him in his Kabbalah studies. When Wiesel asked his father his father asked him why and said no. No one listened to Moishe the Beadle when he had to get deported and then came back with news about what was to come.
Everyone thought he was crazy. When people from other places started coming and changing things in the town around for example making “ghetto” areas, the people started to believe. People were given a certain amount of rations for their family and different families were called for deportation every week. This could also be known as selection. In the ghetto of Sighet, they made up their own government system, police force, social assistance office, labor committee, and hygiene department. In May 1944, the government system was told that their ghettos will be closed immediately and the residents will be deported.
The people are not told where they will go, but only that they may take a few of their personal items with them. The voyage to the death camp Auschwitz was long, depriving and harsh. One woman that was in the train car with them named Madame Schachter kept screaming hysterically that she could see flames until beaten to silence by others that wanted her to be quiet. When they got closer and saw the chimneys for themselves is when they came to reality and knew what was happening Upon getting to the camp they are separated by gender, men on the left and women on the right.
Wiesel’s mother and younger sister go straight to the gas chambers. Wiesel and his father make it past the first selection in the camp. They do this by lying about their ages; Elie claimed he was 18 and his father in his early 30s. Elie stayed with his father, doing everything he could to make sure he stayed that way. The struggle to survive for Elie and his father was filled with pain, hunger and torture. Some ways that they used to survive were sharing rations with each other and other people, steal rations from others and make sure they were strong enough not to get put in the selection to go to the gas chambers.
In August 1944, Wiesel and his father were transferred from Birkenau to Auschwitz III, where their lives changed to avoiding violence and constant search for food, this camp was a work camp. In January 1945, the Germans made all the “inmates” in the camp march to camps in Germany. Wiesel and his father made it Gleiwitz and were put on a freight train to Buchenwald, 350 miles from Auschwitz. They survived this by doing their best not to fall behind or on the ground; if they fell behind they were shot and trampled on. Wiesel was with his father the whole time.
The prisoners were allowed to take a hot bath. They go to the barracks, Wiesel left his father behind. He found his father in a block for the sick and weak. The other men in his father’s bunk beat him to get his food. The men eventually beat him to death and another sick man was in his bunk the next time Wiesel went to see him. His father was brought to the crematorium before dawn by the Kapos. Wiesel was transferred to the children’s block. On April 5, 1945, the “inmates” were told that their camp is to be liquidated and they are going to be moved.
On April 11, a Jewish resistance movement attacked the remaining SS officers and took control. The first American tank arrived at the front gates at six in the evening. The camp was liberated and Wiesel was freed. Everything that Wiesel and his family went through, throughout the novel, tells of how he survived going from death camp to work camp and again to another death camp. He did a lot of things that he didn’t mean, but in doing so he was just trying to survive himself and do what he could to help his father survive as long as he did.