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 By Elie Wiesel

Wiesel's " Night" is about what the Holocaust did, not just
to the Jews, but by extension, to humanity. People all over
the world were devastated by this atrocious act, and there
are still people today who haven't overcome the effects.

One example of the heinous acts of the Germans that stands
out occurs at the end of the war, when Elie and the rest of
the camp of Buna is being forced to transfer to Gleiwitz.
This transfer is a long, arduous, and tiring journey for
all who are involved. The weather is painfully cold, and
snow fell heavily; the distance is greater than most people
today will even dream of walking. The huge mass of people
is often forced to run, and if one collapses, is injured,
or simply can no longer bear the pain, they are shot or
trampled without pity. An image that secures itself in
Elie's memory is that of Rabbi Eliahou's son leaving the
Rabbi for dead. The father and son are running together
when the father begins to grow tired. As the Rabbi falls
farther and farther behind his son, his son runs on,
pretending not to see what is happening to his father. This
spectacle causes Elie to think of what he would do if his
father ever became as weak as the Rabbi. He decides that he
would never leave his father, even if staying with him
would be the cause of his death.

The German forces are so adept at breaking the spirits of
the Jews that we can see the effects throughout Elie's
novel. Elie's faith in God, above all other things, is
strong at the onset of the novel, but grows weaker as it
goes on. We see this when Elie's father politely asks the
gypsy where the lavoratories are. Not only does the gypsy
not grace his father with a response, but he also delivers
a blow to his head that sent him to the floor. Elie watches
the entire exhibition, but doesn't even blink. He realizes
that nothing, not even his faith in God, can save him from
the physical punishment that would await him if he tried to
counterattack the gypsy. If the gypsy's attack had come
just one day earlier, Elie probably would have struck back.
However, the effect of the spiritual beating by the Germans
was already being felt.

The incident that perhaps has the greatest effect on Elie
is the hanging of the pipel. He is a young boy with an
"innocent face" who is condemned to death because he is
implicated in a conspiracy which results in a German
building being destroyed. When the time for the hanging
approaches, the Lagerkapo refuses to kick out the chair, so
SS officers are assigned to do it. Unlike the necks of
those with he is hanged, the young boy's neck does not
break when he falls, and he suffers for over a half-hour.
The suffering of the child is comparable to the suffering
endured by many Jews during the Holocaust. He fought for
his life, at times even seeing a bit of hope, only to be
destroyed in the end. The Jews fought for everything they
had, from their possessions at the beginning, to their
lives at the end. The result, however, was the same.

At the end of the war, Elie looks into the mirror, and says
he saw "a corpse." This "corpse" is Elie's body, but it has
been robbed of its soul. This is similar to the loss
suffered by people all over the world. Those not directly
involved with the Holocaust were still alive physically,
but their mind and spirit had long been dead. By the end of
the war, Elie loses all of his faith in God and his fellow
man, and this is the most difficult obstacle to overcome
when he is released. 



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