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NIGHT - Page Text Content


1: Sharon Park | Elie Wiesel

2: Chapter 1 | Railroad Cattle Cars

3: I am living in the Transylvanian town of Sighet. I study the Talmud, which is the Jewish oral law. I also study the Jewish texts of the Kabbala. I found a challenging teacher of Jewish mysticism in Moshe the Beadle. Soon, the Hungarians expel all foreign Jews, even Moshe. Later German armies harshly treated us as victims. Later, all of us were standing in the streets by their order. We were forced to move into the small ghetto. At dawn on Saturday, after a wretched Friday night packed in the synagogue with the remaining people including us joined the last deportees to board railway cattle cars. | Wiesel | Moshe the Beadle

4: Chapter 2

5: We were packed into cattle cars with bad condition. After days of travel in these inhumane conditions, the train arrived at the Czechoslovakian border, and we realized that we were not simply being relocated. Madame Schchter began to scream that she sees a fire in the darkness outside the car on the third night. She was beaten into silence eventually. Through the windows, everybody saw the chimneys of vast furnaces. There was an undefined, odor in the air—what they soon discover is the smell of burning human flesh. This concentration camp was Birkenau, the processing center for arrivals at Auschwitz.

6: Chapter 3

7: My father and I remained together, but I got separated from my mother and younger sister. We met a prisoner who told us to lie about our ages. Everybody in the column of prisoners weeped, and somebody began to recite the Jewish prayer for the dead, the Kaddish. My father also recited the prayer. I was skeptical, I couldn't understand what i had to thank God for. When we were two steps from the edge of the pit, our rank was diverted and directed to a barracks. Finally, we were escorted on a four-hour walk from Auschwitz to Buna.

8: Chapter 4

9: After the required quarantine and medical inspection, I was chosen to serve in a unit of prisoners, with my father. We were to be housed in the musicians' block, which was headed by a kind German Jew. Not long after, I was summoned to the dentist to have my gold crown pulled. I delayed claiming illness and postpones having the crown removed. Soon after, the dentist was condemned to hanging for illegally trading in gold teeth. I did not pity the dentist, because I had become too busy keeping my body intact and finding food to eat to spare any pity. My father then falls victim to one of the Nazi's rages. Painfully honest, I noticed how much the concentration camp has changed me, I was concerned only with my own survival. Rather than feel angry at the Nazi, I got mad at my father for his inability to dodge the blows. A week later, the Nazis erect a gallows in the central square and publicly hung the child strangle on the end of the noose. I heard someone saying how God could be present in a world with such cruelty. I was mourning, thinking, as far as I was concerned, God has been murdered on the gallows together with the child.

10: Chapter 5

11: On Jewish holiday, my belief in God slackens, and i cannot find a reason to bless God in the midst of so much suffering. I mock the idea that the Jews are God's chosen people, deciding that they have only been chosen to be massacred. When I returned from work, it seemed to me that there had been a miracle. A second selection occurred among the condemned, and my father survived. With the arrival of winter, we began to suffer in the cold. My foot swelled up, and I underwent an operation. While I was in the hospital recovering, the rumor of the approaching Russian army gave me new hope. But the Germans decided to evacuate the camp before the Russians can arrive. I was Thinking that the Jews in the infirmary will be put to death prior to the evacuation, my father and I chose to be evacuated with the others. After the war, I learned that they made the wrong decision—those who remained in the infirmary were freed by the Russians a few days later. With my injured foot bleeding into the snow, I joined the rest of the prisoners. At nightfall, in the middle of a snowstorm, we began our evacuation of Buna.

12: Chapter 6

13: In the blizzard and the darkness, the prisoners from Buna were evacuated. Anybody who stopped running was shot by the SS. At last, the exhausted prisoners arrived at the Gleiwitz camp, crushing each other in the rush to enter the barracks. In the press of men, my father and i were thrown to the ground. Fighting for air, I discovered that I was lying on top of Juliek, the musician who befriended me in Buna. I soon found that I was in danger of being crushed to death by the man lying on top of me. I finally gained some breathing room, and, called out, discovered that my father was near. Among the dying men, the sound of Juliek's violin was heard in the silence. I fell asleep to this music, and when I woke up, I found Juliek dead, his violin was smashed. After three days without bread and water, there was another selection. When my father was sent to stand among those condemned to die, I ran after him. In the confusion that follows, both of us were able to sneak back over to the other side. The prisoners were taken to a field, where a train of roofless cattle cars came to pick us up.

14: Chapter 7

15: We were crammed together in the train car for the night. The train stopped and the SS officers ordered us to toss any dead bodies out of the train. The prisoners were happy to get rid of the dead to make more room in the train car. My father was almost thrown out, but I managed to revive him just in time. There was no food but snow. We traveled for ten days, sometimes through German villages. A German workman by the train tracks threw some bread into the train car. The German watched, amused, as the men fight each other to the death to get the bread. A son killed his own father for a piece of bread. The bread incident was so interesting to the German workers that they began to toss more bread into the train cars. During the night, somebody tried to strangle me. The man in charge of the wagon, my father's friend, Meir Katz, managed to save me. On the last day of the journey, an icy wind blew through us. It seemed that we couldn’t possibly survive such a cold wind. When somebody cried out as they die, everybody began to wail. Meir Katz wondered why the Germans didn’t shoot everybody. It would be more merciful. The train at last arrived at Buchenwald. A hundred prisoners had gotten on the train – only a dozen got off. My father and I were one of them.

16: Chapter 8

17: At Buchenwald, we had to go take a hot shower. My father went to lie down in some snow because of the crowd. I refused to let him do it because he saw the ground covered in corpses who tried to do the same thing as my father did. We were sent to the barracks to sleep. When I woke up, I realized that my father was disappeared. Momentarily I wished that my father would die so I would only have to look over myself, but I immediately felt ashamed. At last I found my father at the block where they were giving out coffee. He was burning with fever and he just wanted a drop of coffee. I brought him some coffee and later, some of my own soup ration. I kept him alive for days, but my father had dysentery. I no longer thought my dad would survive. I took my father to the doctor, but he couldn't do anything. The men in the neighboring bunks hit my dad when I was out. I tried threaten the men, then he promised them soup and bread if they will just leave my family alone. They laughed at me. The block leader told me that I should stop taking care of my father but myself. I felt guilty that I even considered this. An SS officer delivered a blow to my father's head, when he heard him mourning. I stayed awake with my dying father for a while, as he moaned my name but i ignored. In the morning, my father was gone, I was hoping that he wasn't taken to the crematorium before his death. I felt freedom instead of sadness.

18: Chapter 9

19: I was at Buchenwald until April 11th. Nothing mattered to me after my father's death. The Allies were approaching and it seemed like the Germans would fulfill our promise to "liquidate" the world of Jews. The SS officers began to evacuate the camp and started to move thousands of prisoners out each day. After all prisoners were removed, the camp would be blown up. But others including me in the camp were lucky. An underground resistance movement in the camp acted and gained control. At six o’clock that night, American tanks were at the door of Buchenwald. The first thing everybody did as free men was stuff themselves with food. I got food poisoning and spended a couple of weeks recovering in the hospital, hovering between life and death. When I got better, I looked at myself in the mirror. I seemed like a corpse, the vision of myself stayed with me forever.

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Sharon P.
  • By: Sharon P.
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  • Title: NIGHT
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  • Published: over 9 years ago