Night

by Elie Wiesel

Hardcover, 2006

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Hill and Wang, c2006.

Description

The narrative of a boy who lived through Auschwitz and Buchenwald provides a short and terrible indictment of modern humanity.

Media reviews

[Wiesel's] slim volume of terrifying power is the documentary of a boy - himself- who survived the "Night" that destroyed his parents and baby sister, but lost his God.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lit_chick
"In front of us, those flames. In the air, the smell of burning flesh. It must have been around midnight. We had arrived. In Birkenau." (28)

Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, has dedicated his life to the memory of the Holocaust’s martyrs and survivors. In his own words, “… I have fought those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.” (118)

Night is a profound and haunting memoir of life in the Nazi concentration camps. It is spring of 1944 when Wiesel and his family and neighbours first meet their oppressors: the "faces of hell and death" (19) On April 11, 1945, an American tank standing at the gates of Buchenwald, Wiesel will miraculously walk to freedom. In the interim is Night: a terrifying record of his memories of the death of his family, the death of his own innocence, and of the inimitable despair and sadness experienced in confronting the absolute evil of man. Wiesel’s testimony of what happened in the camps is unsparing of those who might wish to forget, or obscure the reality of, the horror that is the Holocaust.

"We received no food. We lived on snow; it took the place of bread. The days resembled the nights, and the nights left in our souls the dregs of their darkness. The train rolled slowly, often halted for a few hours, and continued. I never stopped snowing. We remained lying on the floor for days and nights, one on top of the other, never uttering a word. We were nothing but frozen bodies. Our eyes closed, we merely waited for the next atop, to unload our dead." (100)

Night is novella-length at one hundred twenty pages. Written in simple, stark prose, it is, I think, all the more powerful – there is nothing here to misunderstand, nowhere to hide. Very highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member gbill
After having been exposed to Holocaust documentaries and movies over the years, I didn't think I would get as much out of reading "Night" as I did. It's a great book. The writing is brutally honest about not only the atrocities of the Nazis but also the crises of faith and moments of personal weakness in their victims. It's done with a terse, conversational style that reads almost as if you were engaged in dialog with Wiesel, but on the other hand it is at times quite profound ("I was the accuser, God the accused...") and poetic ("Never shall I forget that night....").

Wiesel does not shy away from his own feelings of shame, shame forever, at how he felt towards his father, and for not answering his last words, which were calls to his son. He relays other horrifying stories of a son killing his father for bread, a Rabbi's son distancing himself from his father intentionally during a forced run during an evacuation, and Jews trampling and suffocating one another. There are poignant moments throughout, such as the last time he saw his mother and little sister, and how quickly the slipped out of his life forever.

Wiesel also does not shy away from his feelings towards God at the time, e.g. "Where is God? .... This is where - hanging from this gallows." Or, the Jews as having transcended everything "death, fatigue, our natural needs....we were the only men on earth." One of the dying states "I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people." These types of thoughts are things that I did not anticipate and were fascinating to me.

The introductory chapter in this edition included passages from the original Yiddish that I think should have survived editing, as well as an appendix that includes Wiesel's Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

There is no way anyone can truly understand what it was like to have been in a Concentration camp but this book provides insight into it in a very honest, humble way. It more than accomplishes its goal of "bearing witness"; it is a moving, stirring book.
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LibraryThing member EnriqueFreeque
My only complaint about this book is that it is so short at only 109 pgs. Nevertheless, Night contains a multitude of horrific images of inhumanity I've carried with me for years. That Wiesel experienced the holocaust as a child, and writes Night from a child's perspective, makes his account that much more harrowing and tragic -- hard to read without feeling viscerally disturbed; hard to read as Elie contrasts the initial innocence and optimism of childhood perspectives in the opening ghetto scenes with the child's inevitable spiritual despair and rejection of God layed against what amounted in the eyes of that child to an infinite backdrop of unspeakable suffering and horror. I cannot claim I enjoyed Night so much as vicariously survived it. Thank God I only had to read it, and not live it, if "live" is the right word describing the dehumanization Wiesel & millions like him endured. That Wiesel survived the Holocaust and was left with enough strength and emotional fortitude to eventually reenter his indescribably painful past and overcome the understandable temptation just to put it all behind him, drink and drug it away or use whatever means necessary to at least try and forget about it, rather than confront it head-on like a semi and write so matter-of-factly about the atrocities, belies the core character of his selfless convictions and aspirations for Night: Wiesel's Night alone could prove the holocaust happened, but it's even more a warning to you and to me to not allow any future holocausts. Yet, of course, despite Wiesel's writings and the hellish accounts of other holocausts penned by so many of his contemporaries (e.g., Primo Levi, Corrie Ten Boom, Irene Nevrosky, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, Chinua Achebe, etc.) holocausts continue. Consider since the time of Night's publication in 1960, Polpot's "killing fields", Idi Amin's merciless Ugandan regime, China (circa 1989, in particular), Slobodan Milosevich's former Yugoslavia, Hussein's Iraq, Rwanda, Darfur, Tibet, and a host of other unknown holocausts considered either unnewsworthy by media higher-ups or that we somehow or another remain ignorant of.

I'm left, after reading and re-reading Night, with several haunting images; two of which haunt me more than most. The first is an account of Wiesel being led with his father by the Nazis toward a ditch:

"Not far from us, flames were leaping up from a ditch, gigantic flames. They were burning something. A lorry drew up at the pit and delivered its load--little children. Babies! Yes, I saw it, saw it with my own eyes. . . those children in the flames. (Is it surprising that I could not sleep after that? Sleep had fled from my eyes.)...."We continued our march. We were gradually drawing closer to the ditch, from which an infernal heat was rising. Still twenty steps to go....Ten steps still. Eight. Seven. We marched slowly on, as though following a hearse at our own funeral. Four steps more. Three steps. There it was now, right in front of us, the pit and its flames."

And at this point, two steps from the flames, Wiesel (a child, remember) contemplates committing suicide by breaking from the line that he may hurl himself on the electrifed fence (unless the Nazi guards shoot him first) rather than suffer the slow agony of fire. A last second reprieve saves him: "Two steps from the pit we were ordered to turn to the left and made to go into a barracks."

Nevertheless, the damage was done--the sadistic mental torture inflicted by the Nazis in this instance had not left Wiesel unburnt. He writes, "Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever....Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust."

Wiesel ends his account with the second image that particularly haunts me: Wiesel, now recently freed from the Nazis, but still a boy, staring at himself in a mirror for the first time in ages: "From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me."

No doubt Night will ever leave its readers.
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LibraryThing member jessicaundomiel
This week I finished reading Elie Wiesel's Night with my Honors 8th grade Language Arts class. It is also the first time I read the memoir. Reading and discussing a Holocaust memoir with 14 year old American students allows you to experience the novel through a unique lens.

Elie Wiesel was 14 years old when the Nazis occupied his hometown of Sighet, rounded his community into ghettos, and ultimately loaded them onto cattle cars for the long journey into what Wiesel calls the Kingdom of Night. Fourteen. The same age as most of my 8th grade students. Although his recollections of those dark times are horrifying, Wiesel's descriptions are evocative and at times poetic, particularly in the edition translated by his wife. His words are haunting...and I feel like everything I've written so far is cliche. Does every review of Night sound like this? "Haunting...evocative...poetic..." Well, whatever.

There were two events in the memoir that stood out to me. The first is when the inmates are forced to watch the hangings of three "criminals," one of whom was just a small child. In the moment when young Elie walks past the hanging child--not yet dead--and looks into his eyes, Elie loses his faith. He sees God in the hanging child, and the child's death invokes the feeling of God's absence and indifference to his people's suffering.

The second event brought tears to my eyes. One of Elie's young companions in the death camp plays forbidden music on his violin through the night in a barrack full of dead and dying men. He put everything he had into that last concert and shared mournful beauty with his fellow captives before his soul escaped the nightmare.

Despite it's malevolence, I enjoy learning about the Holocaust. Perhaps "enjoy" is not the right word; however, I am drawn to the past. I feel I must internalize the memories that are handed down so that the past is not forgotten, so we can learn and grow. Wiesel said, "I always believed that to listen to a witness is to become a witness." That, I believe, is what makes studying the Holocaust so captivating--in reading the memories, seeing pictures of the horrors, and discussing the dark realities of the past, we become witnesses in our own right. My students and I can never truly understand what Wiesel and the other prisoners suffered, but we can keep their memories alive. We can remember and we can speak out against injustice.

I will leave you with more of Wiesel's powerful words:

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.”
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
The book is short, the writing simple and spare--but it's not slight. It's hard for me to think of another book of this kind of length--the text is only 115 pages--that has the raw power of this one. In Holocaust literature this is often ranked with The Diary of Anne Frank. Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel were around the same age when the events of their books took place. Both were 15 when they were sent to Nazi concentration camps. But Night starts where Anne's book ends. The Holocaust overshadows her diary and she was a victim of it, but her book stops short of the experience. Because he survived it, Elie can tell the other part of the story. He was fifteen when his family was uprooted from their home in Romania and sent to Auschwitz.

The simple style suits the starkness of this story. If the shadow of Anne's fate gives poignancy and sadness to reading her diary, somehow knowing Wiesel survives all this doesn't lighten the bleakness of his. I'd read this book before, and so much of what he recounts about his experience is familiar from other accounts, but somehow it doesn't lessen the impact--I think it even increased it. Maybe it's because it only highlights the horror of his individual experience. Watching the hanging of a child. Watching a son beat his own father for a crust of bread. A fellow inmate, when Elie chides him for treating Hitler like a prophet, responding that he does have faith in Hitler--because he alone has kept all his promises to the Jewish people. And above all watching his father die and how that leaves him feeling about himself--and God.

The book has the quality of fiction more than memoir. It has that kind of unity, imagery and impact. It's as dark as its title and subject suggests--but yes, very much worth the read.
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LibraryThing member elenchus
I've read before of Holocaust atrocities, some fiction and some non-fiction. I've read too of other atrocities over time, people against other people, people against their own people, down through history. Part of what such reading imparts is that it's never done,* the nature of hatred and trauma means we're easily numbed, we easily grow accustomed, if it happens long enough, if the threat is acute enough. (Survivors remind us, it happens even before they survived: victims numbed to the corpse propped up against them in the cattle car; KZ inmates inured to their bunkmates murdered overnight.)

All of that results from the human capacity for surviving, but that's short term survival. Long term survival (the prerequisite for civilization, for life beyond mere existence) requires we unlearn our coping mechanisms --once it's safe to do so. No matter how unpleasant, inconvenient, uncomfortable it is. Such a resolution by a trauma survivor marks the start of a healing journey. There must be something analogous for a community, and logically then, for individuals in a community.

R's school assignment suggested to me it was time to look again.

... if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices. We could not prevent their deaths the first time, but if we forget them, they will be killed a second time.
-- Elie Wiesel (1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech)

Wiesel's memoir provides a primer on the sort of policies and behavior used to implement the Nazi "Final Solution", in towns before and after ghettoization, in transport to and between KZ, and in the KZ itself. Wiesel suggests an important consideration is how surviving all this affects a person's understanding of self; and that person's behavior toward others; and psychoemotional & physical reactions to enduring privation, threat, abuse; and that person's faith in people and in a higher being. The pressure from the experience never stops, and the resulting accommodation to such pressure constantly changes over the years and through different events, whether before or after survival.

//

This edition appended other speeches by Wiesel (including the Nobel Peace Prize speech), and speeches by others on the importance of Night and its continued relevance to readers.



* Perhaps atrocity is never past; certainly the necessity for reading about atrocity is never past.
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LibraryThing member Ambrosia4
For those who've not heard of it, this book is the author's memoir of his time at Auschwitz and Buchenwald death camps during World War II. His entire family was killed there and throughout the book his sense of survivor's guilt is palpable and heartbreaking.

Having learned about the Holocaust pretty much every year in school from age 10 to 18, I realized it was surprising and strange that I had never read this before. I picked it up knowing full well what happens, where they were going, how it would end. It's not the plot you read this book for, it's to privately allow yourself to mourn and remember those who were killed. It's to join your soul to Wiesel's in order to more fully understand his reminisces. His writing evokes so much emotion that it would be hard for any reader not to be moved.

I do not want to "recommend" this book, but I do think that it should be read by everyone to understand the atrocities man is capable of and to reflect on the history that has brought us to this place and time.
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LibraryThing member skinglist
This is the relatively new edition, newly translated by Elie's wife Marion and with new forewards. Whether it was new or old didn't matter as I'm one of the few people I know never to have read this book. It surprises me because I've had an interest in the Holocaust for some time. After purchasing this, I read it in one seating at the Galleria in Krakow while waiting for my train back to Prague.

Some thoughts:
p viii. "I know only that without this testimony, my life as a writer--or my life, period-would not have become what it is: that of a witness who believes he has a moral obligation to try to prevent the enemy from enjoying one last victory by allowing his crimes to be erased from human memory.".

That was crucial in the days of the first writing of this story, but even more so now that survivors such as Elie are beginning to die off. Without their words, and the work of those who seek to preserve those words, there is the danger of forgetting. I don't understand how it could possibly be forgotten, but there are people alive today who say it never happened and as time passes, any memory recedes. Writing such as this, simple yet powerful helps to keep the memory alive. It's like Santayana's Quote, which is on display at Auschwitz.

px: "Knowing all the while that any one of the fields of ashes at Birkenau carries more weight than all the testimonies about Birkenau."
1000% agreed. There's nothing like 'being there' and that's part of why I related to this book reading it when I did. I "was there" but at the same time, I wasn't. No one that didn't live through the horrors at Auschwitz, Buna, Buchenwald, Dachau, etc. can even begin to imagine, but we can learn. As I walked through Birkenau, I felt as if I was walking on the bodies of the dead. It hit me far more than Auschwitz did.

p xv: "For in the end, it is all about memory, its sources and its magnitude, and, of course, its consequences. For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time. ... The witness has forced himself to testify. For the youth of today, for the children who will be born tomorrow. He does not want his past to become their future."
There's so much I want to say about that, so many places I want to go, but I can't. The sad thing is, we've let it happen again: Bosnia, Darfur to name just two. Rwanda. But yet it's different. Of course it's different, in a time that we should have known and done better, but we've let them down. Did they die in vain? Elie and his neighbours thought they were safe, much as we all think we're safe today. But are we?

p xx: When Elie is quoted as quoting another at the camp re: God's place at the camps. What hit me at Birkenau was a camp building with a cross. What was a place of God doing in such an un Godly location. I don't know how any survivors kept their faith, I don't. It's amazing that Moishe was able to survive and return but to what end? Did he save any lives? What became of Moishe the Beadle?

p12. "The ghetto was ruled by neither German nor Jew; it was ruled by delusion."

but would you rather know for certain what was coming and not be able to do anything about it?

p27: "But we were pulling into a station. Someone near a window read to us: 'Auschwitz.' Nobody had ever heard that name."
and now, no one will ever forget it. There is the discussion that people today who live in Ozwiecim live there, that Auschwitz was the camp. And in some ways, they are separate. Many people do not know the Polish name of the town, and that helps them. I cannot imagine living in the shadow of such horror.

p28: The horrible mind's eye of Mrs. Schachter comes true. "In front of us, those flames, In the air, the smell of burning flesh. It must have been around midnight. We had arrived. In Birkenau.

In hell...

But yet the Sighet Jews knew nothing of the horrors in 1944. Knew nothing other than Mrs. Schachter's 'visions' but even if they had known, who would have believed it?

And to think they were 'saved' by one step or two. What would the world have known differently without Mr. Wiesel's recount, one of the most memorable and readable.

p. 40 "But no sooner had we taken a few more steps than we saw the barbed wire of another camp. This one had an iron gate with the overhead inscription: ARBEIT MACHT FREI. Work makes you free. Auschwitz.

As I said, it is the symbol of Auschwitz. Until yesterday, I didn't know that it was used at a number of other camps. Auschwitz has a photo of the Dachau gate.

Somehow, Wiesel (and this I believe is how he had success) managed to get the point across and feel his pain without dragging it out. Night is 'only' 120 pages, yet it has the power through its words of 1200.

I've read other survivor accounts, Primo Levi's come to mind first, but they weren't as clear or as loud. I think this is become Elie's translator, his wife Marion, knows his voice.

I'll probably add more, I'm still digesting.
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LibraryThing member laytonwoman3rd
Elie Wiesel's recent death moved me to read this, finally. It's been on my shelf for a long long time. I can add very little to what's already been said about this remarkable memoir. That anyone could live through the horrors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, survive and continue to live with the losses and memories of that time, and then write so beautifully about it is just staggering. At the age of 15, Eliezer Wiesel and his family were "evacuated" from their home village of Sighet in Transylvania into a long unimaginable nightmare. Having escaped the attention of the Nazis until the spring of 1944, the villagers were convinced that the war would be over soon, that the Russians were coming and would defeat Hitler's forces in a few weeks, that they would not be subjected to the fate of the foreign Jews who had been expelled the year before. In fact, when Moishe the Beadle miraculously escaped and returned to warn them, most refused to listen or believe the stories of what had happened to those deportees at the hands of the Gestapo. No, such things were not possible in the middle of the twentieth century! But the reality of ghettos, cattle cars, forced marches, near starvation, "selection" and crematoria awaited them.

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.
Never."
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LibraryThing member jshillingford
I've never read such a short book with such a huge impact. Originally, this autobiography of the holocaust was some 600 pages. Then the author decided to cut it down to the absolute minimum - and it worked brilliantly. Too much writing could cushion the devastation - getting bogged down in details could jade a reader. However, such stark minimalism forces a reader to think about what is being said. And, Wiesel doesn't describe every horror. He leads us to the brink, and lets the reader imagine the next step. Rather like watching a horror movie and seeing a charcter walk into the dark without seeing what happens to them. Also, the intentionally large gaps between some of the paragraphs faithfully evoke the silence the author needs to convey so a reader must contemplate what has passed. The best book I have ever read about the tragedy of the Holocaust.… (more)
LibraryThing member DaydreamBeliever94
This book is so small yet so powerful. The Holocaust is something humanity should look back on with looks of cold disgust at the cruelty and hate that came from the Nazis, something we must accept but hope to leave in our history text books and not let it repeat. This novel is so brilliant to the struggles of a young boy, and how he cares for his father and wanting to not become a terrible human being by betraying his father and abandoning him like other boys, in many ways like the Nazis themselves. It's amazingly powerful and I found myself on the verge of tears more than once.… (more)
LibraryThing member cbl_tn
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel recalls the horrors of life in the Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps. If you've read other Holocaust memoirs, many of the details will be familiar, yet each survivor's story is unique and each tragedy is personal. One of the themes of Night is God's silence in the face of extreme suffering, a theme echoed in Shusako Endo's Silence. Wiesel experienced a crisis of faith due to the unspeakable things he witnessed and the suffering he endured. This is probably the most widely known Holocaust memoir, and it should be on everyone's “books to read before you die” list. As the number of Holocaust survivors shrinks with the passage of time, books such as this will be increasingly important for preserving the memory of this great tragedy and making sure that it never happens again.… (more)
LibraryThing member eheleneb3
Night is Elie Wiesel’s true account of his time in a concentration camp during World War II. It is a small, simple, terrifying book. Some of the things he describes should never have been experienced by any human being, let alone the fifteen year old that he was at the time. The Holocaust is among the biggest massacres inflicted on any group of people in the history of human life, and certainly one of the most reprehensible things to happen in our recent history. Night depicts this degrading extermination hauntingly and eloquently. In the hopes that history will not repeat itself, we all should all read this book, lest we forget the cruelty and brutality of which humans are capable.… (more)
LibraryThing member elbakerone
"Surely it was all a nightmare? An unimaginable nightmare?", reads a line from Elie Wiesel's Holocaust memoir Night. When delving into this book, one almost wishes that it were a nightmare, a horror novel. Even the worst author's imagination could not contrive of the evil contained in these small pages... And yet it is no nightmare. It is a horrifically, true story. Night recounts the tortuous days Wiesel spent at the concentration camps Auschwitz and Buchenwald as a young teenager during World War II. With starvation, sickness, exhaustion and the constant presence of crematoriums the story spirals downward as Wiesel loses his family, his childhood and his faith - only his survival instinct remains when the camps are finally liberated. The shocking atrocities are difficult and literally sickening to read but at the same time, the truth of the story echoes out that it needs to be told, needs to be read, needs to be remembered. Wiesel's powerful words construct a very tragic book, but it is a book that will leave all readers with tremendous respect for him and all those who survived.… (more)
LibraryThing member RyanBest
Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night is an effective and powerful portrayal of the Nazi horrors in the concentration camps during the Holocaust. Although short, Wiesel’s words encompass both the experiences and the emotional trauma associated with his stay in various Nazi camps during the 1940s. We are able to learn so much about the conditions of these concentration camps and the lives of those who endured staying there during Hitler’s reign of terror.
The book starts out as Elie is only twelve years old and is living in Transylvania. It is not long before he and his family are then moved to his towns ghetto, and following that, the concentration camp at Birkeneau. Elie is able to remain connected with his father after the “selection process,” where the Nazis chose who would work and who would be sent directly to be killed, and throughout their traumatic experience they are moved from Birkeneau to Auschwitz and then to Buna. Wiesel details through his narrative the horrible living conditions he and his fellow prisoners had to deal with in the camps, on their marches through blizzards and during their transport in loaded train. Elie is a strong teen, and he is able to persevere with the help of his father. He constantly fights the urges to leave his father behind and only look out for himself, keeping the shred on humanity that he can hold onto.
We are able to see these horrific conditions, including the guard’s brutality toward the prisoners, the lack of any quality food to sustain health, the constant fear from each and every prisoner, and more. Wiesel shares all of this by detailing his experience with his father; what they witnessed and endured together. After following their journey it is easy to understand the hardship and changes that the concentration camps forced in all that occupied. Wiesel shows us the dehumanization of Jews by the Nazis and how their entire lives were stripped from them. Elie’s powerful words make us look back at these events, remembering the toll they took on humanity and vow to never let them happen again.
Night has been one of the best books I have read. It is one of those books that I don’t want to keep reading, to save myself of the guilt and pain I feel from hearing of Wiesel’s experiences, but I must. I am constantly amazed by the strength Wiesel showed from this experience and his ability to persevere in the face of unthinkable hatred and unbelievable odds.
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LibraryThing member chichyJakMysz
This novella is praised by Miss Oprah and the like, but I wonder if she knows much about holocaust accounts, because as good as this one was, there are others that are more poignant.
LibraryThing member abycats
Have read many books describing personal experiences of the Holocaust but never one as immediate as this. Written about Wiesel's experiences in the very worst of the death camps, including the ending death march to nowhere, this book is haunting and unforgettable. A must-read.
LibraryThing member AshRyan
"If we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices... We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented... One person...one person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death." From Elie Wiesel's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

This book is a classic of Holocaust literature, and should be required reading. I've read it several times now and it hasn't lost any of its power...to the contrary, I find more meaning in it every time.
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LibraryThing member redhaircrow
Just thinking of people in the modern age, who might have endured suffering, pain and agony and understandably may have been terrible, unspeakable, unthinkable, yet who still have had the opportunity to read this book, have a computer with internet connection and then type up and post a review of it…yet can still critique writing style and include a dismissiveness based on that?

That leaves me speechless but reaffirms my observation that many of those who have not really suffered the unimaginable, yet have such access, continue to be the ones to negatively or poorly rate a work of personal, agonizing minimalism which contains such profound revelations and truth.

I stopped to reread “Night” this week, and it places in great perspective whatever mundane pain, thought or complaint I might have in life right now, in general. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t negate anyone’s current situation, but it does give you a wider range in which to observe your own life.

I am a student of WW2 and Holocaust literature and history. I am also a person who was born and spent much time in Germany interacting with and interviewing those who remember firsthand, or those who were 1st gen survivors or ones who directly remember on a variety factors: NOT just because their parents might have been involved, but those who survived and endured the “survivors guilt” that maybe they shouldn’t have.

One of the things I’ve noted is that, because the events have replayed to the level of infinity in their minds, sometimes when they recount, it does sometimes come across as bloodless, or too cool. This is part of the psychological mechanisms of the brain which enact to protect that person. Sometimes the level of self-absorption and intentness of having some kind of entertainment from works of horrific history, or a desire to learn of ugly history but not really wishing to “know” of it, actually horrifies me.

Originally posted on my review site Flying With Red Haircrow.
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LibraryThing member TimBazzett
I took this little book along with me to the dentist yesterday and managed to read more than half of it while I was there - in the waiting room and then in the chair between shots and drilling and pins and impressions. an apt choice for time at the dentist since it is so filled with pain and suffering. (There is even a segment here about an unscrupulous dentist in the camps who stole gold from his fellow prisoners' mouths.)

It is easy to see why Elie Wiesel's NIGHT has been in print in so many languages since 1958. It is a gripping and mesmerizing read about pain and loss and the importance of family ties. Wiesel's mother and sisters died early in the camps and ovens of the concentration camps, but he managed to keep his father with him until nearly the end. Wiesel himself was only sixteen when his final camp, Buchenwald, was finally liberated. (This after stays in Auschwitz and Birkenau.) His father died just a few scant months before, weakened unto death by a forced evacuation march in the dead of winter during the last months of the war in Europe.

Wiesel's tale of forced labor, brutal guards and Kapos, poor rations and starvation is stark and moving. I never read earlier edtions of NIGHT, but I suspect this new translation by his wife, Marion, is the most effective and affecting of any previous versions. If you are looking for a quick and dirty introduction to the horrors of the Holocaust, this little book from the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is an excellent place to start. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member jenn88
Halfway through I found out this guy's a fake. Ruined it for me.
LibraryThing member JaneSteen
Night is a short volume, only 112 pages of story, which, for the few of you who don’t know, describes Wiesel’s experience as a teenager in Transylvania in the Second World War, a Jew in a small, very devoutly religious Jewish community where he, the son of a well-educated storekeeper, was devoting his life to his religious studies.

The community is tightly knit and, you get the impression, quite insulated from the outside world; the war is a faraway thing, even when the foreign Jews are rounded up and deported from the town. One of them, Wiesel’s friend Moishe the Beadle, returns to warn the town of the danger of the Nazis, but nobody listens. By this time it is 1944, and the community is sure that the war will soon be over and they will be safe.

Inevitably, the German army arrives and the restrictions begin, then the displacement of the Jews from one ghetto to another. And yet still the community is optimistic. Looking at these scenes with historical hindsight made me want to scream alongside Moishe the Beadle – how could these people be so unaware? And yet it’s human nature to hope…

Of course they are transported to the camps. And of course what follows is a nightmare of separation, deprivation, starvation and brutality. Wiesel reports it all so simply; there’s an almost flat, unemotional quality to his writing that makes it quite possible to read unemotionally, even at the poignant moment when he watches his mother and younger sister walk away in the opposite direction, never to be seen again.

The aspect of this book that most deeply impressed me was the devotion of the Jews to God, even as they wondered where He was in all this horror. Even Wiesel, who professes to turn his back on a God who would let such things happen, constantly refers to Him even as he denies Him. There's much to be learned from the people in this book.

Wiesel sketches the brutalities he suffered and saw very sparely, without much detail. What he tells is enough. He moves the reader swiftly from day to day, week to week as the inmates are moved farther away from the liberating Allies. Then suddenly the narrative slows down to encompass the death of Wiesel’s father, and you can truly feel the numbness of the brutalized teenage boy who is barely able to feel compassion through his hunger. It’s powerful stuff. Then the story moves swiftly again, through the liberation of the camps, and ends with Wiesel looking at himself in a mirror – the face of a corpse. “The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.” Was this the first time he envisaged writing a story that had himself as its main character?

What can you say to such memories? I feel as if I’m writing a summary rather than a review, because the only possible response to this story is respect. Yet the writing has much to commend it – this edition is a new translation by Wiesel’s wife, and the writing is clear, simple, direct and immediate. I give this book the “life-changing” tag simply because it is a familiar horror story seen from the inside. Survivors of such events are rarely able to speak of them, so it is a privilege to listen to a man who did not spare himself from the task of writing his story.
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LibraryThing member miss_writer
Everyone should read this book. PERIOD.
LibraryThing member Unkletom
I first read this book about 40 years ago and it has stayed with me ever since. On hearing of the passing of Elie Wiesel I decided it was time to drop what I was reading and read it again. As he says in his preface to the new edition, we all have a "moral obligation to try and prevent the enemy from enjoying one last victory by allowing his crimes to be erased from human memory."

Eliezer Wiesel sits with Anne Frank at the top of the list of must-read books about the holocaust. While Frank puts a human face on those who died, Wiesel, as one who witnessed and endured the horrors of the holocaust takes the stand and testifies with heartbreaking eloquence of all that he saw and suffered.

Much of Wiesel’s eloquence is in its brevity. In little more than 100 pages he dishes up one of the most powerful indictments of Hitler’s Final Solution ever written.

"'Men to the left! Women to the right!'
Eight words spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion. Eight simple, short words.
Yet that was the moment I left my mother."


Wow. In 28 words he consigns over half his family to the crematorium. No emotion. No blubber. Yet nothing he could have said could have made the reader feel more keenly the horror of the event.

The part of his story that chills me the most is not the constant death but how easily the inmates’ tormenters were able to dehumanize them. What is worse; to kill a man or to turn him into someone who would kill his own father for a crust of bread? Yet Wiesel manages to remind us that even in the depths of Hell, there is room for a touch of the sublime.
"Those were my thoughts when I heard the sound of a violin. A violin in a dark barrack where the dead were piled on top of the living?

It had to be Juliek.

He was playing a fragment of a Beethoven concerto. Never before had I heard such a beautiful sound. In such silence.

I shall never forget Juliek. How could I forget this concert given before an audience of the dead and dying? Even today, when I hear that particular piece by Beethoven, my eyes close and out of the darkness emerges the pale and melancholy face of my Polish comrade bidding farewell to an audience of dying men."


The 2006 revision of the book includes a new preface by Wiesel and, at the end, the acceptance speech when he won the Nobel Peace Prize. In it he said"I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere."
Although Elie Wiesel is no longer with us, his words, his testimony, will live on. Jewish tradition teaches us that we are never really dead until there is no one who remembers us. Let us hope that Eliezer Wiesel stays with us for a long, long, time.… (more)
LibraryThing member varwenea
This is not a review of the book. There’s no point reviewing such a book. It’s powerful, it’s affecting, it’s a reminder of human tragedies and fallacies – all written bluntly and honestly.

For one year, Spring of 1944 to Spring of 1945, the 14-year-old Eliezer Wiesel experienced the kind of nightmare that no person should – living in the enforced ghettoes in Hungary, traveling in cattle trains with little food, water, sanitation, and moving through multiple concentration camps. While many of us know about these atrocities through other readings, what makes “Night” different is the unveiling of the human fallacies associated with such tragedies. The shame – Elie ignoring his father’s calls to him during his final delusional moments dying from dysentery, Elie feeling that certain amount of freedom knowing he doesn’t need to care for his father anymore, the pastor’s son who left him in the mix of the crowds during transport, the son who killed his father over a mouth of bread and was in term killed himself. The struggle with faith – Elie and others, including a rabbi, questioning their God, their faith, “…why would I bless Him? Every fiber in me rebelled.” The ignorance and false optimism – the ghettoes are for their protection; the transport would take them somewhere safe. The harsh reality so raw – “Our eyes opened. Too late.” “You should have hanged yourself rather than come here.” “True. We didn’t know. Nobody told us.”

I was extremely touched by the love of his father. “But seeing that his advice had come too late, and that there was nothing left of my ration, he didn’t even start his own. ‘Me, I’m not hungry,’ he said.” Forbid him from fasting for Yom Kippur, survival first, faith can wait. Kept him awake from sleeping in the snow – a certain death; “Don’t let yourself be overcome by sleep, Eliezer. It’s dangerous to fall asleep in snow. One falls asleep forever.” Fearing he had been selected, he forced on Eliezer his last two personal items – a spoon and a knife – “My inheritance…” I felt brief anger at the fifteen year old Elie who felt ‘freed’, even if momentarily, from his father, the father who had protected him every way he can throughout these sufferings. The father, whose one real mistake, was not fleeing, that he’s too old to start over, his generation who just didn’t know and didn’t flee.

This is an excerpt from Mr. Wiesel’s 1986 speech in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize:
“…I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at the moment – become the center of the universe.”
With democracy declining in the U.S. and around the world, this passage is more important than ever. The aggressors’ boldness grows, with anti-semantic graffiti found on Mr. Wiesel’s Romania home a day ago. Never forget!

A note about the edition: If you’re buying used books, buy one that is translated by Marion Wiesel, his wife. It corrects mistakes from previous translations and expresses Mr. Wiesel’s thoughts more accurately.
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