In the spring of 1944, it was hard to imagine the horrendous acts of terror that would be bestowed on innocent people and the depth of Nazi evil. To Jews in a devout community with Orthodox beliefs and spiritual lifestyles, faith in God and faith in humanity would be shaken to the core as horrific, inhumane acts of torture and suffering were experienced by those in the concentration camps. Since the creation of the world, Jews have often associated darkness (or night) with the absence of God. Consequentially, ...view middle of the document...
The acts of violence and horror were etched in Wiesel’s mind forever as he was quoted saying:
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 the little faces of the children whose bodies I saw turned into wreathes 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. Never (Wiesel 32).
Wiesel repeated the idea “Never shall I forget,” to alert the reader of his inescapable and life-changing memories, and to remind himself that remembering is the first step to the Holocaust never happening again. Most particularly, he had begun questioning his faith in God. His faith was at an all-time low after witnessing a hanging of an innocent teenager in Bura. In Wiesel’s mind, God must have died along with that child to allow such a tragedy to occur. The absence of God’s presence during the Holocaust was the reason for Wiesel’s loss of faith. The death camps stood as a symbol of darkness and despair for all humanity that was involved or knew about its evilness.
The horror within the confines of the death camps were unimaginable and changed people deep within their souls. Wiesel noticed how quickly people’s behavior transformed as they went into self-preservation mode. Prisoners survived by looking out for their own safety and needs first and many enacted cruel treatment upon others, even family against family, to ultimately save their own lives. In fact, Wiesel felt quite guilty for having these feelings himself when it came to the treatment of his own father. Though Wiesel and his father tried hard to stay together and support each other, his father had become weakened by the abusive treatment and harsh conditions so he was an easy target for Nazi cruelty. However, Wiesel reflected on the situation involving Rabbi Eliahou’s son and thought:
[Rabbi Eliahou’s son] had felt that his father was growing weak, he had believed that the end was near and had sought this separation in order to get rid of the burden, to free himself from an encumbrance which could lessen his own chances of survival. I had done well to forget that. And I was glad that Rabbi Eliahou should continue to look for his beloved son. And, in spite of myself, a prayer rose in my heart, to that God in whom I no longer believed. My God, Lord of the Universe, give me strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahou’s son has done (Wiesel 67).
By this point, Wiesel’s loss of faith in God was prevalent and yet he still turned to God in his time of need. He feared that he would lose his self-control and that he would ruin the father-son bond that they...