There are moments in our lives that break us, changing us in unimaginable ways. Elie Wiesel, author of Night, has lived his life as a Holocaust survivor and has gone through things that are incomprehensible for many of us. He showcases the horrors that he and millions of Jews went through in the form of a young teen named Eliezer. Night is the story of Eliezer’s horriﬁc experiences in the concentration camps, and throughout this entire ordeal, some moments changed Eliezer completely. In Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night, the hanging of the young child is a pivotal moment that shook Eliezer to his core, breaking his faith and will to move towards the future.
Faith has been the flame that has kept burning throughout the dark times faced by the Jews in the concentration camps. God has acted as a means to keep moving forward in these tough times. Throughout this torture from the hands of Nazis, the Jews believe that their God will protect them, but slowly and surely, this flame begins to flicker. The unworldly horrors faced in the concentration camps are something that haunts people to this day.
At the beginning of the novel, we learn that Eliezer is a very faithful individual who is curious about God and ﬁnds him dear to himself. God becomes a vital part of Eliezer’s life and is the one he turns to when he is ﬁrst sent to the camp. Praying to the Almighty is and has been a way for people to ﬁnd hope and believe that something or someone out there will help them in any situation. Alas, this ember of hope doesn’t last long as the torture and extent of inhumanity witnessed in the camp soon extinguishes Eliezer’s faith in God.
From the countless horrors faced by Eliezer in the camp, there is one moment that acts as the breaking point in the destruction of Eliezer’s faith. Nazis were renowned for their inhumanity and monstrous treatment of the prisoners and these virtues are represented when a beautiful young boy, a ‘pipel’ is hung to his death in front of all the prisoners.
A child who has barely even started living his life is sentenced to death, all of this just to set an example. The cruel and agonizing death of the child is witnessed by Eliezer and the rest of the inmates, and this is the moment that shatters Eliezer’s faith forever. “’Where is he? Here he is. He is hanging here on this gallows…”. This moment not only killed a young and innocent boy but also murdered Eliezer’s God and in the process Eliezer’s very soul.
Eliezer loved God. Eliezer’s absolute devotion to God is evident at the novel’s beginning, and it acts as a beacon of hope for him in the toughest of times. However, as the story progresses this devotion toward God converts into condemnation and absolute loathing for everything God stands for.
This is the effect concentration camps had on their prisoners, they utterly broke them; physically, mentally, and spiritually. “ Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.”. Elie
Wiesel in his memoir, writes that witnessing the young pipel’s hanging and countless other tortures shattered not only Eliezer’s faith but also his will to keep moving forward.
Our faith is our hope, it is the belief that no matter what happens, there is an Almighty who will protect us. However, this begs the question, even after seeing this much pain and suffering, how can you believe the existence of an ‘Almighty God’. He who was supposed to protect you has left you to die and it is no wonder that Eliezer’s ultimate devotion turns into condemnation. This condemnation, however, comes with adverse consequences as Eliezer ceases to think of the future, viewing his situation as an endless road ﬁlled with darkness. As said by Abraham Miller, “A man begins to die when he ceases to expect anything from Tomorrow.”. It could be said that Eliezer himself died upon the death of his God.
This moment has caused drastic changes in Eliezer. The horriﬁc events faced in the concentration camp have changed Eliezer from a young boy who follows God without thinking to a person who believes there is no one for him but himself. In this twisted coming of age, the hanging of the child and all the other horriﬁc moments change Eliezer and all the other Jewish prisoners completely, breaking their faith and soul through unworldly means. “If there is a God, He will have to beg for my forgiveness.”.
These words carved on the walls of a concentration camp by a Jewish prisoner display the extent of suffering the prisoners faced. The prisoners felt so betrayed and broken that instead of condemning the Nazis who caused the suffering, they instead turned on their beloved God. The Holocaust is one of the darkest parts of human history and the extent of suffering faced by Jews at the hands of Nazis can never be understood by us. Ellie Weisel’s memoir, ‘Night’ is an emotional and heartbreaking story showcasing life in the concentration camps.
The survivors of the Holocaust lived through this dark time but the loss of one’s soul is much more agonizing than physical death. The hanging of the young Pipel and countless other horrors changed the prisoners in unimaginable ways, leaving remnants of this suffering forever. In conclusion, these pivotal moments in Ellie Weisel’s Night provide us with reasons to respect the people who survived this nightmare and honor the millions who lost their lives to the inhumanity of Nazis.