Night is a powerful, brilliantly written autobiography of a concentration camp survivor. Wiesel saw his family, friends, and fellow Jews degraded and murdered. Wiesel also says that his God, to whom he was so devoted, was also “murdered” by the Nazis. In the novel, Wiesel changed from a devout Jew to a broken young man who doubted his belief in God. When Wiesel first comes to the concentration camp and sees all the walking skeletons, he can t believe that this is real. He feels that he might be dreaming.
However, as Wiesel faces each day and witnesses the starvation, the beatings of innocent people, and the tortures, his faith in God begins to waiver. By the end of the book Wiesel has lost his belief in God. If there is a God, how could he allow this to happen, he wonders. As the days go by, there are frequent selections. A man with a little stick decides who will live and who will die. This man acts like God. To the right you live, to the left, you die. As Wiesel watches the evil that exists, his belief in the existence of God continues to deteriorate.
Wiesel asks, “Where is my God? Where is He? ”(61) Wiesel continues to witness hangings, beatings, starvation, and torture. One day when Wiesel comes back from a day s work, he sees three gallows being assembled. The whole camp has to witness the hangings. Among the 3 people who would die that day, was a young child. Wiesel wondered what that poor innocent boy had done to deserve to die in this manner. Wiesel watched the boy struggling between life and death. The death was a slow agony.
At this point Wiesel lost all faith in the existence of God. “Where is God now? Where is He? Here is – He is hanging here on this gallows…”(62) After this incident Wiesel could no longer believe in God. He felt that no one could believe in God when one saw innocent children die such terrible deaths. Night tells the story of innocent people who were destroyed because they were Jews, These people had done nothing and yet were tortured, degraded and liquidated for no reason other than they were Jews.
Wiesel is a witness to all the horrible things. The death of his family, childhood, and God. Reflection Night is a compelling book that deals with the delicate subject of the Holocaust from a first hand perspective. Christianity does not bear a historical responsibility for the Holocaust, but because of the anti-Semitism it fostered, Christianity bears a moral responsibility for the supporting roles or inaction of the Christian population during the Shoah, and for the general indifference and silence of the Christian Churches.
I believe that the Holocaust tragedy indicates a general breakdown of the Western civilization, and all its political and religious institutions and leadership. I believe that Holocaust Prevention is the Central issue of the Post Holocaust era. Without doubt, Anti-Semitism was the major factor that made the Holocaust possible. Without the latent and overt Anti-Semitism Hitler, the lowly corporal, could not rise to power. It was Anti-Semitism that cleared the conscience of the killers and onlookers alike and let them participate in the crimes.
The problem is that each generation of Christian children is saturated with images of Christ the Redeemer crucified by the wicked Jews, or Judas the Traitor with his gold. Those are powerful images that are imprinted in the tender mind of a child and they last forever. All the synoptic Bibles of the New Testament are the primary sources of Anti-Semitism. Christianity is a conservative, mystic religion, based on reverence of the past, and cannot and will not revise its basic dogma.
The Church can provide a more logical explanation: The Crucifixion was the will of God, and without the Crucifixion there would be no salvation. So how can the Jews be blamed for an event ordained by God? We can try to stop the flow of Anti-Semitism by developing closer cultural ties. In the Middle Ages, monks believed that Jesus preached in Latin. Today, many Christians are not aware that Jesus was Jewish. Acknowledging the Jewish source of Christianity, the contributions of the Jewish carpenter, tentmaker, fishermen, can bring a change in attitudes.
I feel that the Holocaust was a terrible event and that however we look at it we will just try to think of ways on how we could have prevented it. I think that because of Hitler it was inevitable, not because of Anti-Semitism by the Christians. Although many Christians did not try to intervene, mainly the Pope, Pius XII, we must remember that 5 million Christians were killed during the Holocaust too. We can only hope that Jews and Christians fully understand that both groups suffered a tragic blow and that we can only continue to live in peace in the future.