Night Journal Response Chapters 1-3

Here are some journal responses to the book Night by Elie Wiesel.

I have to admit, when I first found out that we were going to be going over the Holocaust in English, I wasn’t very excited.  Once I started reading the book Night, by Elie Wiesel, my opinion completely changed.  You hear and read bits of information about the Holocaust every once in a while, but rarely do you get to hear a firsthand experience.  I am very glad that this book was chosen and I hope that this unit continues to be just as interesting.

            The first three chapters of depict Night the journey of the community of Sighet to the German concentration camps.   Night starts with Elie describing Moishe the Beadle.  He tells the reader how Moshie guided him through his studies of Kabbalah.  Right from the beginning of his memoir, Elie is shown to be a very religious person.  His spirituality is a very important topic later on.  Eventually, all foreign Jews were expelled from Sighet, including Moishe.  Months later, Moishe found his way back to Sighet, telling stories of how men, women and children were brutally murdered and left to die.  Once I read that nobody believed him, including Elie, I knew the real story was about to begin.  Soon enough, the Germans were in Sighet, creating ghettos, forcing Jews to wear the yellow star and taking away rights.  Something I still can’t understand is why the citizens of Sighet let the Germans just walk in and tell them was to do.  It almost seemed as if they didn’t care what was happening and just turned their heads to it.  While reading this particular part, I was waiting and waiting for someone to do something, for someone to take a stand, but it never came.  Eventually, departures were to take place.  The two ghettos created by the Germans were to be entirely liquidated. 

As the second chapter begins, the citizens of Sighet are starting to realize how they were being treated like animals, herded like sheep into the cars.  For me, this was very saddening, knowing that they were thinking that you couldn’t be treated any worse than that.  If they only knew what was coming in the near future. As they were pulling into the station, the word “Auschwitz” was said.  When I read that my heart dropped.  Of the few things I knew about the Holocaust, I knew that Auschwitz was a place of death that few left.  One of the lines I remember most in Night was Elie’s description of the smell of the air.  “In the air, the smell of burning flesh.”  This very simple yet powerful description made me cringe when I first read it.  I still try to avoid that line when I read over it, so I don’t get the image it instills in your mind.  Once they arrived in Birkenau, they were told to sort into lines.  “Men to the left!  Women to the right!”  This was one of the few things that I knew about the Holocaust.  I knew that next, certain lines would be killed depending on sex, age and religion.  Unfortunately for Elie and his father, the line they were put in leads to the crematorium.  It’s hard to believe that there was a time where hundreds of thousands of people were burned alive.  What’s even harder to believe is that this just happened less than 70 years ago.  This is the first time Elie starts to lose faith in God.    Luckily for him and his father, their line is diverted just before they reach “The Angel of Death”.  I did a little research on who or what this “Angel of Death” was, and I found that it was a man who went by the name of  Josef Mengele.  Mengele was a SS physician who supervised the selection of prisoners.  He is most known for the human experiments  he performed on the inmates.  I spent over an hour reading on these experiments, and I was repulsed at the brutality of most of them.  Some of these experiments include attempts to change eye colour by injecting chemicals, vivisection on children, amputations and shock treatments. Most of these experiments were done without any form of anesthesia.  Soon after avoiding the crematorium, the surviving prisoners were put into barracks and told to strip to be shaved, disinfected beaten and clothed.  As time went on, the prisoners are being treated less and less like humans, and more and more like animals.  They were given numbers to replace their names.  Think about it.  Not having a proper name anymore, just referred to as A-712.  I couldn’t ever imagine being treated like this.  If I think back to the worst I have ever been treated, it isn’t even a fraction of this.  Still, the worst is yet to come in the following chapters.

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1 Comment
  1. Brielle Marten
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    really did not understand it at all

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