By Emma Billig
On May 1, 2001, Elie Wiesel spoke at KU and talked to students about his experience during the Holocaust. His 1958 memoir, “Night,” was one of the required readings in the college of liberal arts and sciences at the time.
Maybe you’ve heard the name Elie Wiesel before, and perhaps it was while you were in high school, having to read about him in your history or English class, or found on your own time.
For those who aren’t familiar with him or his memoir, go to your local library, the nearest bookstore or order a copy from Amazon immediately.
“Night” is a memoir of Elie Wiesel’s experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald from 1944 to 1945. The story is told by Eliezer, a stand-in narrator for Elie Wiesel.
This book is not a happy one, as anyone who knows anything about the Holocaust will point out, but it is crucial to read these accounts, to see the terrible way people were treated, so that it never happens again. Many of us know history has a way of repeating itself.
“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 that smoke,” said Eliezer. This quote from “Night” takes place after he and his father have survived the first selection at Berkenau.
The furnace smoke is a symbol of the Holocaust that brings most graphic images toward the front of our minds, of burning flesh, starving bodies and piles of shoes. It all shows the inhumanity toward other human beings, which is a major theme of “Night.”
This idea of inhumanity toward other humans is increasing in today’s society, with the terroristic threats, sex trafficking and bullying that occurs daily in communities all over the world.
The Holocaust’s cruelty bred cruelty in its victims, turning people against each other, so it’s important for that type of negativity to cease. People seem to forget the humanity of their victims. So as Atticus Finch of “To Kill a Mockingbird” would say, “Try living in someone else’s shoes.”