For any organized genocide to take place, there must exist an organized attempt at mass dehumanization. This has been proven repeatedly, in murders, in massacres, and through actions. Through the actions of the Rwandan Army, which committed hundreds of thousands of murders in a matter of months, killing over two thirds of the Tutsi people. Through the disparaging, imperialistic beliefs held for hundreds of years under the mantra of ¨The White Man's Burden¨. Through the Nazi soldiers who, although ultimately failing in their state-sponsored pogrom against the Jewish people, are responsible for the extermination of over six million men, women, and children. Dehumanization, agreed upon by historians and sociologists alike as a vital component of war and genocide, consists of destroying a person's perception of two features: Identity and Community. This process, so mercilessly and stringently carried out by the SS, and so tragically experienced by the Jewish people left such an impact on Elie Wiesel that he could not bear to recount his struggle without distancing himself from his memories through a transformation into Eliezer.
Night, essentially a book written about dehumanization, conveys the survival of one boy throughout experiences that crushed the spirits of millions. Moishe the Beadle, one such example of a mind irrevocably damaged by the process, and symbol of the approaching tribulation, demonstrates the damage it can do to a human being. ¨Moishe was not the same. The joy in his eyes was gone. He no longer sang. He no longer mentioned God, or the Kabbalah. He spoke only of what he had seen. But people not only refused to believe his tales, they refused to listen.¨ Moishe underwent only the beginning stages of dehumanization. The violence he experienced in that a day changed him. He no longer hid, no longer stayed out of the way, he could no longer stay silent with such a truth as his, but his people gave
him no thought. They ignored him, more than ever, at the moment when he could not bear it, they had completed his dehumanization. Isolation from his community left Moishe empty.
“God is testing us. He wants to see whether we are able of overcoming our base instincts, of killing the Satan within ourselves. We have no right to despair, and if he punishes us mercilessly, it is a sign that he loves us that much more.” Akiba Drumer, a deeply religious man had said, at their arrival at camp Bruna. He gave hope to the other prisoners. His reading of the Kabbalah, and scriptures kept many people’s spirits high enough to avoid selection. He relied on his faith. It bound him together. It sheltered him, and kept him and others alive. Over time, his faith dwindled, he unraveled, and this ultimately led to his end. “It’s over. God is no longer with us.” He said one day. “His eyes glazed, telling everyone how weak he was: ‘I can’t go on… It’s over.’” Akiba, his beliefs crushed by the camp, gave up, and lost his humanity. The Nazis chose him for...