Night is memoir written in 1960 by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. It chronicles his experiences with family members in Nazi Germany concentration camps at the peak of the Holocaust when the Second World War was coming to an end. Dehumanization is consistently highlighted in Night as the ruthless Nazis brutalized German Jews. This can be defined as the process by which a person is stripped of the qualities that makes him or her human, such as individuality, identity, and soul. The memoir is full of depictions of the various ways in which Jews were dehumanized, including separation of families, starvation, beatings, theft of possessions, forced labor, and brutal murders. This essay discusses how dehumanization occurred in Night and how it helped Adolf Hitler achieve his ends.
Dehumanization in Night begins when Elie and other Jews were forcibly taken away of their homes in Sighet. It continues through the harsh manner in which they are treated while in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald the concentration camps. The treatment spurs the Jews to harden and turn against one another in attempts to survive the extremely harsh conditions. When Elie arrived at Auschwitz, he ceased being a person and instead became a number. He says, I became A-7713. From then on, I had no other name (Wiesel, 42). In addition to losing his identity, he also lost family members. Elie was only allowed to remain in a slave labor camp with his father because he lied that he was much younger than was the case. The other members of his family were separated. It was only after he was released that his mother and younger sister had been executed via a gas chamber, with only two of his sisters surviving.
When Hungarian police invaded Sighet, they did not allow the Jews to hold on to any objects that was of value or meant something to them. Elie states, A Jew no longer had the right to keep in his house gold, jewels, or any objects of value (Wiesel 8). They were then forced to travel inside over crowded train wagons in which there was no space for someone to move about. Elie remembers a German police officer telling them, There are eighty of you in this wagon... If anyone is missing, youll all be shot, like dogs. (Wiesel 22). Such treatment proves that the Germans did not respect the Jews and held them in low esteem. Rather, the Nazis degraded the Jews to the level of animals, and did not think they had any desirable human qualities.
Other instances of dehumanization are evident when Elie and other Jews arrive at Auschwitz, one of the numerous concentration camps set up by Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. As soon as they alight from the wagon, a German officer orders them, Men to the left! Women to the right! (Wiesel 27). From this, it is evident that Jews are being treated like animals rather than humans whereby they are separated from loved ones and friends.
In Night, Elie Wiesel does an excellent job of depicting the dehumanization of Jews during the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler hated the Jewish race and his mistreatment of them as a way of showing how superior his own Aryan community was. He wanted to eradicate all Jews in Germany and Europe at large. Since the dehumanization resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews, then Hitler achieved a significant degree of success.
Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. Penguin UK, 2012. Print.
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