Wiesel's novel 'Night' poses several important questions and highlights the degeneration of humanity in the period of the holocaust. Read through this following story to get an insight into this novel through these quotes from the novel.
Did You Know?
This piece has been translated into more than 30 languages and is ranked as a very important base of holocaust literature.
Elie Wiesel's 'Night' is an account of the time that the author spent in the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland during the holocaust. Having survived the holocaust, Wiesel maintained a 10-year silence, after which he published Un di Velt Hot Geshvign ('And the World Remained Silent' in Yiddish) in 1956.
He later condensed the 800-page account and translated it into French in 1958, giving it the title, La Nuit. The work was then translated into English and published as 'Night' in 1960.
'Night' talks about the story of a boy who survives the concentration camp, and traces his emotional journey from being an orthodox Jew to a disillusioned youth who finds the need to question the existence of God and the humanity of mankind.
Given its dark and morose subject matter, publishers initially refused to take it on as a project. However, this work remains one of the most widely read holocaust literature since the time of its publication. In this following Penlighten article, we will highlight some of the key quotes from 'Night'.
Quotes from the Novel
"One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. One less reason to live."
"To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time."
"Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere."
"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed....Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never."
"I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions."
"For in the end, it is all about memory, its sources and its magnitude, and, of course, its consequences."
"His cold eyes stared at me. At last, he said wearily: "I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people."
"They are committing the greatest indignity human beings can inflict on one another: telling people who have suffered excruciating pain and loss that their pain and loss were illusions."
"I told him that I did not believe that they could burn people in our age, that humanity would never tolerate it . . ."
"One day when I was able to get up, I decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me."
"It was pitch dark. I could hear only the violin, and it was as though Juliek's soul were the bow. He was playing his life. The whole of his life was gliding on the strings--his last hopes, his charred past, his extinguished future.
He played as he would never play again...When I awoke, in the daylight, I could see Juliek, opposite me, slumped over, dead. Near him lay his violin, smashed, trampled, a strange overwhelming little corpse."
"But because of his telling, many who did not believe have come to believe, and some who did not care have come to care. He tells the story, out of infinite pain, partly to honor the dead, but also to warn the living - to warn the living that it could happen again and that it must never happen again.
Better than one heart be broken a thousand times in the retelling, he has decided, if it means that a thousand other hearts need not be broken at all."
"...I believe it important to emphasize how strongly I feel that books, just like people, have a destiny. Some invite sorrow, others joy, some, both."
"Those who kept silent yesterday will remain silent tomorrow."
"Bread, soup - these were my whole life. I was a body. Perhaps less than that even: a starved stomach. The stomach alone was aware of the passage of time."
"Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky."
"Everybody around us was weeping. Someone began to recite Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. I don't know whether, during the history of the Jewish people, men have ever before recited Kaddish for themselves."
"It is obvious that the war which Hitler and his accomplices waged was a war not only against Jewish men, women, and children, but also against Jewish religion, Jewish culture, Jewish tradition, therefore Jewish memory."
"We are all brothers and we are all suffering the same fate. The same smoke floats over all our heads. Help one another. It is the only way to survive."
"In the beginning there was faith-which is childish; trust-which is vain; and illusion-which is dangerous. We believed in God, trusted in man, and lived with the illusion that every one of us has been entrusted with a sacred spark from the Shekinah's flame; that every one of us carries in his eyes and his soul a reflection of God's image. That was the source if not the cause of all our ordeals."
"Humanity? Humanity is not concerned with us. Today anything is allowed. Anything is possible, even these crematories."
"This day I ceased to plead. I was no longer capable of lamentation. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused."
"And then I explained to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."
"Violence is not the answer. Terrorism is the most dangerous of answers."
"Then the train resumed its journey, leaving in its wake, in a snowy field in Poland, hundreds of naked orphans without a tomb."
"I did not deny God's existence, but I doubted his absolute justice."
"Both the Jewish people and the Palestinian people have lost too many sons and daughters and have shed too much blood. This must stop, and all attempts to stop it must be encouraged."
"How could I say to Him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch as our fathers, our mothers, our brothers end up in the furnaces? Praised be Thy Holy Name, for having chosen us to be slaughtered on Thine altar?"
"His eyes would suddenly go blank, leaving two gaping wounds, two wells of terror."
"After the war, I learned the fate of those who had remained at the infirmary. They were, quite simply, liberated by the Russians, two days after the evacuation."
"Why did I write it? Did I write it so as not to go mad or, on the contrary, to go mad in order to understand the nature of madness, the immense, terrifying madness that had erupted in history and in the conscience of mankind?"
"His last word had been my name. A summons. And I had not responded."
"Nobody asked anyone for help. One died because one had to. No point in making trouble."
"At every step, somebody fell down and ceased to suffer."
"This was it; the end of the road. A silent death, suffocation. No way to scream, to call for help."
"In this place, there is no such thing as father, brother, friend. Each of us lives and dies alone."
"I looked up at my father's face, trying to glimpse a smile or something like it on his stricken face. But there was nothing. Not the shadow of an expression. Defeat."
"Yet another last night. The last night at home, the last night in the ghetto, the last night in the train, the last night in Buna. How much longer would our lives be lived from one "last night" to the next?"
Many scholars have argued that much of the vengeful and angry tones that were used in the original Yiddish text have been lost in its translation to French and English. However, these quotes will have given you an idea of just how powerful this literary piece is and why, to this day, it remains a chilling account of the horrors of the holocaust.