“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?
Was it to leave behind a legacy of words, of memories, to help prevent history from repeating itself?
Or was it simply to preserve a record of the ordeal I endured as an adolescent, at an age when one’s knowledge of death and evil should be limited to what one discovers in literature?
I needed to give some meaning to my survival. Was it to protect that meaning that I set to paper an experience in which nothing made any sense?
In retrospect I must confess that I do not know, or no longer know, what I wanted to achieve with my words. I only know that without this testimony, my life as a writer—or my life, period— would not have become what it is: that of a witness who believes he has a moral obligation to try to prevent the enemy from enjoying one last victory by allowing his crimes to be erased from human memory.
I knew that I must bear witness. I also knew that, while I had many things to say, I did not have the words to say them.
And so I persevered. And trusted the silence that envelops and transcends words.
And yet, I still wonder: Have I used the right words? I speak of my first night over there. The discovery of the reality inside the barbed wire.
I believe it important to emphasise how strongly I feel that books, just like people, have a destiny. Some invite sorrow, others joy, some both.
For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”
- Elie Wiesel, Night
The most terrifying account I have ever read, Elie Wiesel’s Night is a book everyone must read. The entire time I was reading his experience, the only thing that kept bothering me was how could the world stand by and allow such an inhuman act to happen, but then again, a lot of them were unaware, or as they are today as well, indifferent.
Elie Wiesel is 7th from left in the second row
I don’t really think that the modern man can even comprehend the brutalities of the concentration camps. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas looks like a bedtime story in front of the narrative of this book.
How did the SS officers reach a point when it didn’t even bother them to toss infants in open flame?
How did german teenage girls pass love notes to soldiers whipping the Jews?
How can the german farmers even throw bread in a carriage full of hundred men for the sake of entertainment?
How did people become so depraved that they would kill each other over a piece of bread?
How can a son abandon his father to better his chances of survival?
How can the narrator describe last looking at his mother and sisters, and the death of his father, without even as much of a pause?
How heartless were the authorities to separate families and ‘finish them off’ within a matter of days?
We can read and absorb such accounts, but we can never feel and understand them.