When reading the book Night by Elie Wiesel, I found myself unable to put it down. The word unbelievable kept coming to mind when reading away. How a person of such young age could have that much willpower and courage is hard for me to
even fathom. Even though intolerance and racism still exist somewhat today, I am really thankful for the life I have.
After reading the book I tried to put myself in the same situation and imagine what it would be like, but this mental exercise did not last long to say the least. If a Christian was in the same situation as Wiesel, I believe the effects would be analogous, in fact I think that any person that was in his shoes would question their beliefs at some point. If a Christian was in a Nazi camp it is logical that they would too question why God would allow this suffering. In the end though, a person with strong faith would assess the situation as a test from God. They might even look at this as part of God’s plan and relate it to Jesus’ suffering.
I think this situation from a Hindu point of view would be a little tricky. A Hindu or Buddhist could probably explain his suffering and cope with it better than a Christian or Jew. I say this because they would not have God to blame. True they do have Gods they worship, but their religious motives are more self-directed since they control their destiny without relying on God, like Christians and Jews, to get you there. I do think a Hindu, especially one of a lower caste system, could tolerate the suffering better than others at first, but that level of toleration can last only so long. I suppose a Hindu could explain his or her own suffering as a test to the atman and perhaps one step closer to moksha. A Buddhist, to my best estimation, would view their suffering in similar way. Since many in the concentration camps realized that death, at some point, was probable, Buddhist could build from this. As long as they did nobody harm their road to Nirvana could be a realistic near future.
While there were not many centralized characters in the book, there were those who made quite an impression. Akiba Drumer, a rabbi from Poland, was one who did not keep the faith like he should have. It was from his lack of faith that his life was cut shorter than it had to be. Drumer once told Elie, “It’s the end. God is no longer with us. (73)” I find it ghastly that a rabbi, of all people, would utter those words, as well as, “Where is the Divine Mercy? Where is God? How could I believe, how could anyone believe, in this merciful God? (73)” He felt that there couldn’t be a God, because otherwise there wouldn’t be this kind of suffering done to his children. Elie felt that if he had continued to believe, his life would have been prolonged, which is evident when he writes, “as soon as he felt the cracks forming in his faith, he had lost his reason for struggling and had begun to die.”
From reading the book I was under the impression that eventually Elie found strength in himself not in God, almost like a bend but don’t break mentality. He was not very happy with God, and although he didn’t entirely question his faith, he certainly did question God and his motives. He felt that in some ways God was to blame for this, “I was the accuser, God the accused. (65)” If not for his father I think Elie would have not had the moral, even as little as it was, that kept him from giving up and ultimately headed towards a deadly date with the selection committee. It was during this time in camp that he and his father really bonded, it’s just a shame that the ending was what it was.
It’s a shame how much dignity was stripped of these people captivate. There were times that they did get to act on their beliefs, when they gathered on the Appelplatz was one of them. I think they did this to feel at home, even for a short amount of time, and to ultimately feel human. What would captivate someone to treat a human being like this is a question without a humane answer. While this book was certainly depressing, it was heartfelt, insightful, and above all, moving.