I've read several Holocaust memoirs and novels over the past year, and each one has the power to shock me, sicken me, make me angry, and make me cry. Despite the pain and the horrors within their pages, I continue to read them because I believe it is important to remember. We should not forget the millions who lost their lives, and like Elie Wiesel says in the above passage, we must not allow the world to forget what evil has been done.
In Night, Wiesel tells how he and his family were sent to Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944. They had lived in Sighet, Transylvania, and were told of the horrors that awaited them two years prior by a foreign Jew who was among the first deported and had escaped from a trench filled with the bodies of massacred Jews. But no one paid him any mind. Soon after arriving at Auschwitz, Wiesel -- age 15 -- and his father are separated from his mother and sisters.
"Men to the left! Women to the right!"
Eight words spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion. Eight simple, short words. Yet that was the moment when I left my mother. There was no time to think, and I already felt my father's hand press against mine. We were alone. In a fraction of a second I could see my mother, my sisters, move to the right. Tzipora was holding Mother's hand. I saw them walking farther and farther away. Mother was stroking my sister's blond hair, as if to protect her. And I walked on with my father, with the men. I didn't know that this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever. (page 29)
Wiesel's words are so simple, yet so powerful and heartbreaking. He goes on to describe the struggles he and his father endured every day for months and months at the hands of the Nazis -- how they marched in the snow with barely any clothes or shoes, how they watched a son kill his father over a crust of bread, how he watched his half-dead father be beaten by an SS officer.
Wiesel's recollections of his experiences during the Holocaust are vivid and haunting. His words are heavy with darkness, desolation, and the loss of faith in the midst of evil. Night is a book that stays with you long after you turn the last page with a heavy heart. If you only read one Holocaust memoir in your lifetime, let it be this one.
War Through the Generations.
Disclosure: I won a copy of Night in a blog giveaway.