Essay, Research Paper: Holocaust And Wiesel

Religion

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In early 1944 the town of Sighet, Transylvania was overran by the Nazi war
regime as it rapidly expanded across Europe and parts of Asia. In this town a
young religious man named Elie Wiesel was questioning the intent of the German
army and the rumors that were circling about them. Although he had heard that
the Germans were planning mass genocide of the Jewish race, the common feeling
throughout the town was that Hitler could never exterminate every Jew. Early in
Wiesel’s Night, he recounts his experiences in the Holocaust and he expresses
his undying faith and belief that god would never allow Hitler’s regime to run
its course. When the Nazi army finally reached the town of Signet, the Jews were
forced from their homes and relocated into the town’s gettos. It was the
seventh day of Passover, and according to Wiesel, “the race towards death had
begun.”1 The Jews were slowly removed from the large getto of Sighet and
shipped to the smaller, “holding” getto where they were separated according
to sex, age, and physical ability, and prepared for shipment to Auschwitz. The
day that Wiesel and his family were to be moved to the smaller getto of Signet,
Wiesel demonstrates his faith in God by awaking early to perform his daily
prayers. As he prepared to leave his home he said, “I looked at our house,
where I had spent so many years in my search for God; in fasting in order to
hasten the coming of the Messiah; in imagining what my life would be like. Yet I
felt little sorrow.”2 This passage is symbolic of his first parting with his
faith in God. Yet he still believed in God, he was beginning to understand that
a God should not let mass extermination happen to his people. While he was sub-consciencly
loosing his faith in God, he still felt that there was strength in humanity and
that human morals would never allow the burning of Jews. Upon Wiesel’s arrival
at Auschwitz he caught his first glimpse of the crematories he exclaimed to his
father, “I [do] not believe that they can burn people in our age…humanity
would never tolerate it.”3 Yet after his father convinced him of the horrible
truth his faith in god could never be restored. Wiesel’s father, after fully
realizing the full horror of the concentration camps, said a small prayer to
God, and to this Elie reacted with utter defiance. “For the first time, I felt
revolt rise up in me. Why should I bless His name? The Eternal, Lord of the
Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank Him
for?”4 Although Wiesel still believed in the presence of God, he felt that in
God’s silence he was defying the Jews and their faith in him. How could
someone you are so devoted to be absent in your greatest time of need? Wiesel
said that he sympathized with Job, and I feel that the similarities between
Wiesel and Job are numerous. Both were very religious men who put their faith
before all other, and yet both found that their faith brought them nothing but
suffering. Both felt that they deserved a more peaceful and humane existence
because of their undying devotion, yet both lived in the cruelest situations for
some time. Wiesel felt that man was stronger that god because throughout the
Holocaust his fellow prisoners continued to praise God and believed that God
allowed the Holocaust in order to benefit the Jews in some strange way. Wiesel
felt that because of all the torture that the Jews were subjected to their
continued praise proved that they were ignorant to the fact that God was not a
source of supreme justice. Wiesel continued to despise God for the remainder of
the Holocaust, yet from this new independence he found power. “I felt very
strong. I was the accuser, God the accused…I was terribly alone in a world
without god and without man.”
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