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Dehumanization In Night, By Elie Wiesel

1106 words - 4 pages

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, Tender is the Night, Fitzgerald writes “He was so terrible that he was no longer terrible, only dehumanized”. This idea of how people could become almost unimaginably cruel due to dehumanization corresponds with the Jews experience in the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the ruthless massacre of Jewish people, and other people who were consider to be vermin to the predetermined Aryan race in the 1940s. One holocaust survivor and victim was Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner and author of Night. Wiesel was one of the countless people to go through the horrors of the concentration camps, which dehumanized people down to their animalistic nature, an echo of their previous selves. Dehumanization worsens over time in Night because of how the Jews treated each other, and how Elie changed physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
The Jews’ close relationships slowly deteriorated due to dehumanization. In the beginning the Jews looked out for one another, but once in Auschwitz, everything they once were and believed in started to fade. For example, Akiba Drumer used to be a rabbi, endlessly praying his days away. After being in the concentration camps he loses his faith for God, saying “It’s over, God is no longer with us… I suffer hell in my soul and flesh … How can I believe, how can anyone believe in this God of Mercy?” (p.76-77). After suffering so much, Akiba can’t even believe in his closest relationship of God anymore. This causes the past Rabbi to lose faith in not only god, but in everything else as well. Akiba loses himself abandons the one thing he used to rely on to dehumanization, and ends up accepting his death. Like Akiba Drumer, another man lost to dehumanization was Rabbi Eliahu’s son. The Rabbi and his son constantly were together for three years in the camps, and endured the same harsh conditions. When Elie comes across the Rabbi looking for his son after the death march, he realizes “His son had seen him [the Rabbi] losing ground … [he] had thought by this separation to free himself of a burden that could diminish his own chance for survival” (p.91). The son, who had been with his father through everything, abandoned Rabbi Eliahu for the mere chance he could come off better later. This further fits the idea that under harsh conditions, dehumanization can lead to people betraying their own family. Another father -son relationship that falls apart occurs on the train ride to Buchenwald. After a German laborer had thrown a piece of bread into the train car full of staving people, the people on the train ruthlessly fought others for the bread. Among those was a father, who hid some bread to share with his son, who “threw itself over him [the father] … the old man was crying: Meir, my little Meir! Don’t you recognize me … You’re killing your own father” (p.101). The whole scene of people behave like animals to each other and even family members shows how that no one is even remotely like they were before...

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