Night by Elie Wiesel Essay Example
In history class, high school students may ask the question, “Why do I need to learn history?” Many teachers will respond with “We teach it in order for history to not repeat.” The fact of the matter is, history will continue to repeat year after year. Elie Wiesel’s Night emphasizes his intense and everlasting experience while in the Nazi concentration camps. Wiesel touches on the significantly cruel and diabolical actions made by Hitler and the Nazis. In the early 2000s, the Darfur region of Sudan experienced a mass genocide, which has shown that war really is contagious. These two events are similar and different in many ways, but nonetheless, they are clear evidence that history does in fact repeat itself. In Elie Wiesel’s Night, the appalling conditions of the Holocaust is depicted, and similar violent events continue to repeat in the Darfur genocide.
In the memoir Night, Elie Wiesel recounts his horrific journey through life while he was in the Nazi concentration camps. To get to Birkenau, the Jews were packed into Cattle cars and were tormented through unbearable conditions. The car was tightly packed with eighty Jews per car and “lying down was not an option, nor could [they][all] sit down”(Wiesel 23). In the car, there was little air, which made it hard for the Jews to even breathe. After being in the car for over two days, the “thirst became intolerable, as did the heat.”
These inhumane conditions left the Jews to lose their sense of public decorum, along with their sanity. A German officer also threatened that if “anyone went missing, [they] [would] all be shot”(24). These threats by the officer instilled an increased amount of fear in the Jews, while they were still dealing with the hunger, thirst, and cramped space of the cattle car. To prevent them from escaping, the “doors were nailed [shut] and the way back was irrevocably cut off.” Elie describes his new world as a “hermetically sealed cattle car,” which is how his new life in the concentration camps will become. The cattle cars were only the beginning of the ghastly conditions that Elie and his father will soon face in Birkenau.
Wiesel also touches on the violence used to intimidate and threaten people, which was commonly used in the concentration camps. While they were all struggling to survive, the Kapo used violent acts against each other. For instance, Idek savagely beat Elie multiple times, when he was unprovoked. Idek threw himself “on [Elie] like a wild beast, beating [him] in the chest”(53). Here, Elie recognizes that Idek is furious for no reason, and he is unable to control himself. Idek was relentless and began to crush Elie with “ever more violent blows, until he was covered in blood.”
Idek has lost his sanity and has continued to threaten violence numerous times. Again, Idek abused Elie with a whip and he “no longer felt anything except for the lashes of the whip”(57). Idek, the Kapo, uses violence as a threat to keep Elie quiet after having watched Idek have sex with a Polish girl. After being whipped 25 times, Elie fainted due to the maltreat actions that Idek imposed on him. Overall, violence had become a common instance throughout the concentration camps, as they have caused the Jews to become inhumane.
Fight for Food
Elie Wiesel's’ Night also depicted the fight for food and the extent to which Jews would go to eat. On the train to Buchenwald, there was no food or water for ten days. For amusement, the German Officers threw a piece of bread into the train, and they watched the Jews fight to death to get a small crust of bread. A man got hold of a piece of bread, then his own son “threw himself on him,” and he then “groaned and died”(101). A father's son trampled him for a small, tasteless crust of bread, which resulted in them both dying. This is because the son did not have enough willpower to resist the temptation that he and all the other prisoners had to satisfy their hunger. The Jews have begun to devolve into primitive people, with savage, animalistic characteristics that are necessary for survival under such conditions. Night presents the barbaric actions from the Jews in which were a result from the horrible conditions of the Nazi concentration camps.
The Holocaust and the Darfur Genocide
The Holocaust and the Darfur genocide can be considered as two greatly violent and devastating events, occurring only 60 years apart from each other. In the cattle cars, the Jews experienced exceedingly inhumane conditions during the Holocaust. Similarly, the displaced Darfuris experienced dire treatment in the IDP camps, where they were sent when displaced from Darfur. These two barbaric events that have devastated history have continued a common pattern that has been repeated for many more years to come.
Omar Al-Bashir, the previous president of Sudan let his tyrannical actions lead to turning Darfur into a country full of heartbreak. While Al-Bashir had almost two arrest warrants regarding the Darfur Genocide, he was additionally accused with murder, rape, and acts of torture(“Sudan”). His dictatorial ways impacted the people of Sudan and their daily lives. Al-Bashir responded to every opposition with “brutal repression, including frequent arrests, and incarceration of opposition leaders.”
Al-Bashir’s whole presidential career had been defined through war, misjudgment, and violence. In order for Al-Bashir to strengthen his autocratic power, he had “introduced policies that sustained corruption and nepotism.” He disregarded basic human rights and was not sympathetic to the lives of people in Darfur. Additionally, Al-Bashir “presided over the split of his own country,” which led to the independence of South Sudan. If a president is meant to be supporting and unifying a country, how could he oversee his own country’s severance? Overall, Al-Bashir’s arbitrary actions resulted in not only a significant downfall of Darfur, but also a downfall of his own.
Along with poor leadership by Al-Bashir, the Darfur genocide was also caused by various governmental and environmental issues. As a result of release from British Colonial rule in the 1950s, Sudan has experienced social inequalities, competition over natural resources, and overall bad governance(Sikainga).
Because of these problems, the Darfuris have continued to struggle for over 10 years. Certain social inequalities include Sudan's military junta in Khartoum that has “deliberately targeted the black Africans of Darfur”(Tinsley). They targeted this group because they “want the land for their largely Arab supporters.” These supporters ultimately funded and governed their country, which is why there was a significant amount of social discrimination to the Africans in Darfur. For instance, rebels among the territory’s ethnic Central African community launched an insurgency in 2003(Micheal).
The rebels were complaining of discrimination and oppression by the Arab-dominated Khartoum government. Additionally, land dispute was a major issue for farmers, as that was a common occupation and method of income in Sudan. Because of this, there was significant conflict between pastoralists and sedentary farms, which was “caused in part by environmental pressure and changing land ownership patterns”(Sikainga). This created an overwhelming amount of issues for them, as farming was their livelihood. All of these conflicts caused a build up of violence, which was then acted upon during the violent genocide in the 2000s.
Because of Al-Bashir, Darfur was significantly impacted by the genocide. When genocide is present, mass displacement thus indicates social destruction as cause(Kaiser). As a result of the Darfur genocide, more than two million people were displaced due to the genocide and ethnic cleansing(Tinsley). Because of poor leadership and governance, many families were forced to relocate to IDP camps. These are camps for people who are forced to flee from their homes. According to Ahmad Adam, a research associate at SOAS School of Law, the IDP camps have been sites of persecution and gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Darfuris were often placed in the camps; they included dire conditions.
These camps had acted as a point of vulnerability in the Sudanese government. Additionally, there has been reports of “harassment, arrests, systemic rape, targeted assassinations, and forced disappearances”(Adam). The Darfuris have been greatly affected by instances that were out of their control, and it significantly hurt their families. Along with mass displacement, there has been an estimated 100,000 to 400,000 deaths of the people of Darfur(“Genocide in Darfur”). Between displacement and deaths, the people of Darfur have suffered greatly, and it's still an ongoing issue, with death tolls being updated for a continuing amount of years. Overall, Darfur has experienced a great misfortune of the country, which left many people displaced and many dead.
Wiesel presents the great violence bestowed during the Holocaust, which would have never been thought to be repeated in the Darfur genocide. Wiesel’s Night depicted the Holocaust, which was one of the most defining and depressing moments in history. The violence during the Holocaust set the scene for future tyrannical acts, like the genocide in Darfur. If these events keep reoccurring, how can we allow this to continue to devastate our society?
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Wiesel, Elie. Night. Hill and Wang, 2006. 6