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Night, by Elie Wiesel, is a work of Holocaust literature, with a decidedly autobiographical slant. Wiesel based the book-at least in part-on his own experiences during World War II. Through just a brief 116 pages, the book has received considerable acclaim, and the author won the Nobel Prize in 1986. The quotes below show the searing nature of the novel, as Wiesel tries to make sense of one of the worst human-made catastrophes in history.
Wiesel's journey into Hell began with a yellow star, which the Nazis forced Jews to wear. The star was, often, a mark of death, as the Germans used it to identify Jews and send them to concentration camps.
"The yellow star? Oh well, what of it? You don't die of it." --Chapter 1
"A prolonged whistle split the air. The wheels began to grind. We were on our way." --Chapter 1
The journey to the camps began with a train ride, with Jews packed into pitch-black rail cars, with no room to sit down, no bathrooms, no hope.
"Men to the left! Women to the right!" --Chapter 3
"Eight words spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion. Eight short, simple words. Yet that was the moment when I parted from my mother." --Chapter 3
Upon entering the camps, men, women, and children were usually segregated; the line to the left meant going into forced slave labor and wretched conditions-but temporary survival; the line to the right often meant a trip the gas chamber and immediate death.
"Do you see that chimney over there? See it? Do you see those flames? (Yes, we did see the flames.) Over there-that's where you're going to be taken. That's your grave, over there." --Chapter 3
The flames rose 24-hours a day from the incinerators-after the Jews were killed in the gas chambers by Zyklon B, their bodies were immediately taken to incinerators to be burned into to black, charred dust.
"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night." --Chapter 3
Utter Loss of Hope
Wiesel's quotes speak eloquently of the utter hopelessness of life in the concentration camps.
"A dark flame had entered into my soul and devoured it." --Chapter 3
"I was a body. Perhaps less than that even: a starved stomach. The stomach alone was aware of the passage of time." --Chapter 4
"I was thinking of my father. He must have suffered more than I did." --Chapter 4
"Whenever I dreamed of a better world, I could only imagine a universe with no bells." --Chapter 5
"I've got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He's the only one who's kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people." --Chapter 5
Living With Death
Wiesel, of course, did survive the Holocaust and became a journalist, but it was only 15 years after the war ended that he was able to describe how the inhumane experience in the camps turned him into a living corpse.
"When they withdrew, next to me were two corpses, side by side, the father and the son. I was fifteen years old." --Chapter 7
"We were all going to die here. All limits had been passed. No one had any strength left. And again the night would be long." --Chapter 7
"But I had no more tears. And, in the depths of my being, in the recesses of my weakened conscience, could I have searched it, I might perhaps have found something like-free at last!" --Chapter 8
"After my father's death, nothing could touch me any more." --Chapter 9
"From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me." --Chapter 9