Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Night, by Elie Wiesel

My first encounter with Wiesel's writing, and this is his first book after liberation from Buchenwald in 1945. This is the darkest book I've ever read. Wiesel starts out as a devout Transylvanian Jew, whose entire existance is a worship of God. This is the last words of Night, after liberation: "I wanted to see myself in a mirror....I had not seen myself since the ghetto. 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."

Wiesel later recovered his humanity, and has become a wonderful education to the world about the Holocaust, and the causes of it, and what we might do to keep this horror from recurring. But in this, his first book, the reader witnesses his total destruction, and the death of his faith, of his very soul.

Fortunately, Wiesel recovered in a French orphanage, and eventually began to write in French. He is now an American citizen, and was the chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust where he planned the American memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. Elie Wiesel and his wife established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity in 1986. The site says, "Through all its activities, the Foundation seeks to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice." So perhaps Wiesel has recovered his faith, in a way.

I have sworn upon the alter of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. - Thomas Jefferson

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