Straight off the back of finishing ‘Slaughterhouse 5′ I started on ‘Night’ – another book about world war two, however this one based on experiences in prison camps, and also non-fiction.
I’ve been to Auschwitz, which means every time I read these books, they seem to hit slightly harder.
The atrocities of the persecution of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses horrifies, astounds – I can never understand who let it happen. Who watched as families were herded like animals into ghettos, then into train cars, then into large empty buildings/spaces then into chimneys and grave pits.
The most striking passage with ‘Night’ will stay with me I think – I rarely quote novels in my reviews however this struck me still and shares more of the feelings and experience than any review ever could;
Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust.
Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself.
From passing selection as Auschwitz, to Buchenwald, to the forced march as the war was slowly being lost, each step of the story is awful, and horrifying to the last page.
The introduction contained a piece that was more harrowing than the rest, which was in the original Yiddish version but was left out in other volumes, and was concerned with the death of the authors father. To feel like you must be silent while your father calls to you the last time cannot be explained, the dark sense of relief that you have only yourself to look after now cannot be judged, the guilt forever after is not justified. I’m crying as I write this, as this passage affected me so much and I can see how the author will forever question why – why was he even put in the situation in the first place? why god, why?
In surviving, Elie has brought us another account of the atrocities. Faced in a world with revisionism, holocaust deniers and genocide that is happening in our world as I type this post (Dafur), the importance of books such as these cannot be ignored.
Thank you Wikipedia for the above picture.