The Biggest Tragedy: Holocaust Essay Example


Throughout history, many people have belonged to different ranks within a society, and the people in control of substantial power and influence have enabled it to consume them. They allowed that sense of power to take over their mind, leading them to abuse the power to control people who are subordinate to them. The Holocaust is one such example of this. A genocide that killed six million Jews and wiped out two-thirds of the Jewish population in Europe, it depicts how, when the wrong person acquires an immense amount of power, it leads to disastrous consequences.

Elie Wiesel, the author of Night, was one such person who suffered through these repercussions. Through the eyes of Eliezer, Wiesel was able to portray how quickly people change and the drastic shift that occurs in their mentality after acquiring power. Comparatively, in the Stanford Prison Experiment, it proves how even ordinary people have the ability to succumb to the temptation of dominating over others. As a result, the Holocaust teaches people to not obey the command of those who abuse their power because the ones deemed inferior are then stripped of their identity and morality. Everyone should have the right to decide their own course of action.

Many people believe it is indispensable to follow the order of an authoritative figure. However, it should never be to a point where they are unable to keep their individuality. In the book Night, Eliezer identity departed from him and he said “I became A-7713. From then on, I had no name” (Wiesel 42). The oppressors stripped the Jews of their humanity, which in return dehumanized them making it easier for those with the power to justify their means of violence towards the Jewish population. On page 35, Eliezer said how “Our clothes were to be thrown on the floor at the back of the barracks. There was a pile there already. New suits, old ones, torn overcoats, rags. For us, it meant true equality; nakedness.” They surrendered towards authority because they knew it was their only chance at survival. The Jews were all the same, no one had any speical feature that made them different. They automatically followed the rules of authority disregarding their own morals and identity because the fear of not doing so was a far greater risk. 

On the contrary, some people believe that they should sacrifice their morals when a situation becomes a matter of life or death. During the Holocaust, the prisoners acquiesced to the higher ranking people because they were afraid of the unknown consequences. However, they knew that if they were to disobey, they would be castigated. On page 62, the Lageralteste declares “prisoner number . . . is condemned to death. Let this be a warning and an example to all the prisoners.” The prisoners blindly followed everything; they never had an objection nor thought to talk back to the officers because for them it was no longer about staying true to themselves rather a means of survival.

Regulation and discipline are important, but no one should have the power to take away someone’s morals. In the Stanford Prison Experiment, Zimbardo gave random people, the role of a guard or prisoner. Immediately, the guards felt the sense of power they held over the prisoners, making the prisoners feel subordinate and stripping away their identity. In the Stanford Prison Experiment,  one of the guards talked about how “The prisoners were aroused from their sleep at any time and force them to do exercises,” (“Stanford Prison Experiment” Part 2 0:07 - 0:30). Once the guards felt a sense of power, they realized that they had the sole power to do anything they wanted. Therefore, people must not let the demands of authoritative figures become their actions. If they go against their own morals and values, no matter their position in society, there are consequences that will follow. 

It is important to have order and obedience towards an authoritative figure, but people should not have the power to control every aspect of someone else’s life.  On page 73, Eliezer explained how in the concentration camp “the bell regulated everything. It gave [him] orders, and [he] executed everything blindly.” In these concentration camps, the Jews surroundings were what controlled them, nor did they have a say in what the believed was right.  Without thought, they allowed themselves to follow every order that they were given. It was clear that the higher ranked people in the camp had a say in what the prisoners had to do. No one should ever have the power to control every piece of someone’s life. On page 57, Eliezer saw what higher ranked people did “[they] moved one hundred prisoners so that he could copulate with the girls.” The soldiers forced these young girls to do inconceivable acts. No one ever had the courage to step up and rebel against the soldiers.  It was precarious to rebel against the higher ranked people, however they decided to sit in silence and received odious treatment from others.  Ultimately, it is important for people to stand up for their beliefs. They should not allow anyone to take away their morals. 

While it is necessary to have order and obedience in society it should never make anyone feel fearful of losing their life, making them unwilling to stand up for themselves. It is dangerous for people to have too much power because as shown in the Holocaust and the Stanford Prison Experiment because power can be destructive to both themselves and to those around them. When authoritative figure gives out an order they always expect someone to follow it, however everyone is entitled to their own opinions and they might rebel against. However, when given an order, we instantly follow, it regarding anything because we are always taught to listen and respect the person that is a higher rank. This is a reminder that we should never allow ourselves to give in to anyone and allow our identity and morals to succumb us.

 

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