I’d read Night before when I was quite young and don’t think had then grasped the depth of depravity described in this profound memoir. Reading it again now, when I’ve accumulated perhaps a bit more wisdom made this book shine in a new light. Holocaust has been a constant theme in western cultural landscape with Hollywood churning out movies on industrial scale on the topic and every year there are few blockbuster fiction and non-fiction books covering different shades of this dark event. But this book is unique in its honest portrayal of Jewish misery & suffering in Holocaust and also by author’s admission of his own loss of faith after witnessing so much evil. The book is particularly sad as it describes the helplessness of Jews at the tail end of WWII which could have been totally avoidable but unfortunately Jews till that late also were left to be ruthlessly culled by Nazis.
The book dispels the myth that suffering makes us pious as falsely proclaimed by world religions and shows a stark mirror to humanity on how suffering brings the worst in us making us indistinguishable from animals. A suffering man won’t hesitate to kill others for a mere morsel of bread, also once taken to extremes won’t hesitate to go willingly into the clutches of death. A suffering man will not blink an eye if his own father gets brutally beaten, won’t hesitate to steal from others, won’t think twice to even kill others.
But the main theme of this book is not the depiction of suffering but the quintessential human inquiry on why God make us suffer and suffer so horribly. This was the question that Buddha delved in an earlier era, which Christ sought to resolve by his own blood. Is there a meaning behind the suffering in this world, what’s the point in creating this world if there is so much suffering in it? The author does not have any answers to give in this book but is honest in his admission of his own loss of faith after witnessing the wretchedness of human soul during holocaust.
Night is the first part of the trilogy, I’d not read the other two parts of the trilogy earlier. While the first one is a memoir and other two are fictions but it is the genius of Elie Wiesel to tie these together by strings of memories from his horrid time in Holocaust. Dawn is not that impactful as the first and last part of this trilogy but author perhaps wanted to relive the emotions from other side where roles are reversed and he becomes the one struggling to kill an innocent intelligent man. Dawn also provides a peek into the struggles of the Jews to get their own homeland and sacrifices they had to make.
Last part of this trilogy, Day is where author seeks the antidote to suffering in love, but in conclusion finds out that even love is not enough. So much suffering makes us already dead even if it seem like living, it makes those who suffered so much to be only at home in company of dead and not in the living.
It is a courageous book, not every author can dare to write
“God likes to sleep with twelve-year-old girls. And he doesn’t want us to know. Whoever sees it or guesses it must die so as not to divulge the secret. Death is only the guard who protects God, the zookeeper of the immense brothel that we call the universe”.
This is an important journal of Jewish Holocaust, but that was not the only dark hour in human history, there have been so many of these human culls. Why do we end up in these killing sprees? I’m a Hindu, we’d our own Holocaust that was more intense and numerically perhaps hundred times worse but not much is said about it. Africa had its own Holocaust which was perhaps similar to the scale as one Hindus sufferred but again not much is said of it. There are minor ones like one in Armenia, Bosnia and most recently in Kashmir where Kashmiri Pandits were ghettoed, killed and raped indiscriminately. How can we stop these killings in the name of religion and race. Perhaps all of us together as humanity need to work towards culling all these organised religions before they end up in generating another Holocaust and another one will happen surely.
This trilogy is a must read for anybody who wish to understand the sufferings of Jewish Holocaust and also the misery that organised religions of the world have brought upon humanity.