Life in Camps During Holocaust Essay Example


Over 17 million people were killed in the Holocaust, many of them, Jews. The way that the Nazis accomplished such a terrible act is by gradually taking away the Jews humanity. They did this by dehumanizing them to such a point that they are no longer human. Night, a memoir by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel, is about his experiences throughout the Holocaust and the atrocities that occurred. Throughout the whole memoir, he, his family, and all of the other Jews are brutalized. During the whole experience, they are constantly beaten and killed for no obvious reason. During their time in the Holocaust the Jews are forced to come to terms with death, are separated from their family, and are killed in terrible ways. The Holocaust shaped Elie Wiesel by making him more determined, accustomed to the terror,  and less trusting.

Because of the Holocaust, Elie is driven to become more determined to survive, because without the determination to live he would have died. As soon as they reached the camps, they would be separated from your family. If they were strong enough to work, they would be kept barely alive, if not, they are sent straight to the crematorium. If they passed that point, then it is up to them to survive. The determination that is needed to survive is proven by Stein. “The only thing that keeps me alive,’ he kept saying, ‘is to know that Reizel and the little ones are still alive. Were it not for them, I would give up. One evening, he came to see us, his face radiant. ‘A transport just arrived from Antwerp. I shall go to see them tomorrow. Surely they will have news … ‘ He left. We never saw him again. He had been given the news.

The real news”(47). The only thing that kept him alive is the knowledge that his family is alive. The thought of his family also kept Elie alive during his time in the camps. He had to believe that they were alive. “From time to time, in the middle of all that talk, a thought crossed my mind: Where is Mother right now…and Tzipora…  ‘Mother is still a young woman,’ my father once said. ‘She must be in a labor camp. And Tzipora, she is a big girl now. She too must be in a camp … ‘ How we would have liked to believe that. We pretended, for what if one of us still did believe” (46). They knew that if they stopped believing that their loved ones were all right, then they would die in the camp. The fact that they were separated gave Elie more determination to survive so that he could see his family. 

During his time in the camps, the only way to cope with the terror is to get used to it. Death is so common and it came in different ways. Jews and other prisoners were gassed by the hundreds, as is they were cattle or shot as if they were dogs. If prisoners were not in good physical condition, they were either killed or tested on. If they feared death, they would die, so they had no choice but to become immune to it. “We were not afraid. And yet, if a bomb had fallen on the blocks, it would have claimed hundreds of inmates' lives. But we no longer feared death, in any event, not this particular death” (60). The death that they feared, is the death of their loved ones. In order to not die the prisoners could not be human or have emotion.

If not, they could be beaten or killed. “My father no longer felt the club's blows; I did. And yet I did not react. I let the SS beat my father, I left him alone in the clutches of death. Worse: I was angry with him for having been noisy, for having cried, for provoking the wrath of the SS. ‘Eliezer! Eliezer! Come, don't leave me alone … ‘ His voice had reached me from so far away, from so close. But I had not moved.”(27). If Elie had acted, or spoken out, he would have been beaten or worse. Because of this, in order to survive, he is required to adjust and adapt to the horrors that were happening around him on a daily basis. He has to change his outlook on life, but in doing that he has become less attached to it. 

While at the camps, everyone is against everyone else. This forces them to become less trusting, in order to protect themselves. While in Auschwitz, all of the valuables are taken from prisoners. Clothes, suitcases, shoes, jewelry, these are among the many things that are taken from the Jews and sent back to Germany. The Nazis wanted everything from the Jews. They keep taking everything from the prisoners until they take their life. This includes crowns. Elie has one, but another prisoner wants it. This forces him to either give the prison, his crown, his only thing of value, or keep it, but suffer the consequences. “It was untenable. We had to give in. That day, Franek burst into savage laughter: ‘I knew it, I knew that I would win, kid. Better late than never. And because you made me wait, it will also cost you a ration of bread.

A ration of bread for one of my pals, a famous dentist from Warsaw. To pay him for pulling out your crown.’ ‘What? My ration of bread so that you can have my crown?’ Franek smiled. ‘What would you like? That I break your teeth by smashing your face?’ That evening, in the latrines, the dentist from Warsaw pulled my crown with the help of a rusty spoon. Franek became pleasant again. From time to time, he even gave me extra soup. But it didn't last long. Two weeks later, all the Poles were transferred to another camp. I had lost my crown for nothing.” (54). He put his trust in the fact that if he gave the man the crown, that everything would be fixed, but really, he had lost his only thing of value for a false. After he is liberated and is writing the book, Night, he had a hard time with the beginning, the first few words. In the original version of the book, which is in Yiddish it starts thus. “In the beginning, there was faith—which is childish; trust—which is vain; and illusion—which is dangerous” (1). Through the events of the Holocaust, Elie is forced to learn that faith, trust, and illusion, would have gotten him killed. He had to overcome those obstacles in order to survive. These events change the identity of Elie, from a trusting man of religion to a man that thinks the ability to trust is useless. 

The events of the Holocaust changed Elie into the person he was when he was liberated. The dehumanization that the Nazis forced upon Elie and the rest of the Jews forced them to become determined, accustomed to death, and less trusting. People need to learn from the mistakes of the past and change how they act in the future, but they should never forget.

 

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