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172 of 203 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality and humanity at their worst., April 12, 2003
This review is from: Night (Paperback)
"Night" may be one of the hardest books you will ever read.
Nobody can top reality. The dreadfulness, terror and shock that originate in the imagination of horror novelists can never begin to compare to the real events that happened during World War II, in a time that is widely referred to as the Holocaust.
"Night" is about the true and terrifying events that Eli Wiesel has gone through during those days.
Inside, you are going to meet the young Elie Wiesel, born in the town of Sighet, Romania, presumably into a good life. Then you'll meet the phenomenon of denial among the Jewish people; so many had never believed the reports about the horrible activities of the Germans and of the other European nations during the War - until it became their fate as well.
This pitiful and destructive denial continues even while being transferred like cattle to concentration camps, through the first revelations of brutal and barbaric behavior amid the Jews themselves in the face of inhumane conditions. Their eyes are finally opened only in front of the gates of hell - the crematoriums of Auschwitz.
Having survived the selections there, Wiesel continues to live on and witnesses atrocities, loss, immense pain and sadness in different concentration and death camps, and comes to questioning everything he has ever learned in his short life to that point.
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Why would you want to spend your time reading something that horrible?
You probably have general information about the atrocities that took place in those cursed days; having seen films like "The Schindler's List" you have an idea about how it was like. Having seen documentaries with interviews of survivors might add some more knowledge to your overall concept about what it was like.
Reading books about it is the next step.
There is always something new that a person hasn't heard of, probably would never have imagined and that cannot be conveyed via the visual media. Furthermore, reading a book is quite different from seeing a film in the sense that one gets the chance to crawl into the mind of a person that has been through this unprecedented ordeal. What one may discover about human nature - both of the murderers and their victims - may be extremely upsetting and difficult to grasp.
Why is it important to read this book and others like it?
To remember that it happened and to do as much as anyone can do to never let it happen again.
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In the end of the last paragraph I almost added, "to pray to God it would never happen again", but then again I remembered how God was awfully quite as it was all taking place. I don't know where God was during those times, but Wiesel gives his answer that comes from within, while witnessing the hanging of a young boy: "Where is He? Here He is - He is hanging here on the gallows..."
Yes, in the aftermath of the Holocaust there was a sweeping faith crisis; the concept of God and the belief in mighty powers became a problem among the Jewish people, and as I've learned during my latest trip, among many Europeans as well. How could He let it happen? Why? Where was He? And ultimately, should the people that suffered to an unparalleled extent forgive Him? Can they? Who should they blame?
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In this shocking account you will not find the answers for these questions.
The conclusion you may draw in the end of the day is that it's up to us to protect ourselves. We can trust ourselves - and ourselves only - in the fight against the forces that wish to destroy us.
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