"Night" by Elie Wiesel, Sections 1–3

January 23, 2014
In this unflinching memoir, Elie Wiesel describes his experience as a young man imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust.

Here are links to our lists for the memoir: Sections 1–3, Sections 4–5, Sections 6–9
They called him Moishe the Beadle, as if his entire life he had never had a surname.
He was poor and lived in utter penury.
He sang, or rather he chanted, and the few snatches I caught here and there spoke of divine suffering, of the Shekhinah in Exile, where, according to Kabbalah, it awaits its redemption linked to that of man.
The Jewish community of Sighet held him in highest esteem; his advice on public and even private matters was frequently sought.
After a long silence, he said, “There are a thousand and one gates allowing entry into the orchard of mystical truth. Every human being has his own gate. He must not err and wish to enter the orchard through a gate other than his own. That would present a danger not only for the one entering but also for those who are already inside.”
“You don’t understand,” he said in despair.
Annihilate an entire people?
Wipe out a population dispersed throughout so many nations?
And thus my elders concerned themselves with all manner of things—strategy, diplomacy, politics, and Zionism—but not with their own fate.
The regent Miklos Horthy was forced to ask a leader of the pro-Nazi Nyilas party to form a new government. Yet we still were not worried.
First edict: Jews were prohibited from leaving their residences for three days, under penalty of death.
Some prominent members of the community came to consult with my father, who had connections at the upper levels of the Hungarian police; they wanted to know what he thought of the situation.
My father’s view was that it was not all bleak, or perhaps he just did not want to discourage the others, to throw salt on their wounds: “The yellow star? So what? It’s not lethal...”
We were stunned, yet we wanted to fully absorb the bitter news.
My father was running right and left, exhausted, consoling friends, checking with the Jewish Council just in case the order had been rescinded.
Valuable objects, precious rugs, silver candlesticks, Bibles and other ritual objects were strewn over the dusty grounds—pitiful relics that seemed never to have had a home.
His very presence in the procession was enough to make the scene seem surreal.
Policemen wielding clubs were shouting: “All Jews outside!”
I looked at my house in which I had spent years seeking my God, fasting to hasten the coming of the Messiah, imagining what my life would be like later.
People’s morale was not so bad: we were beginning to get used to the situation.
Tragically for those who had already been deported, it would be too late.
No one was praying for the night to pass quickly. The stars were but sparks of the immense conflagration that was consuming us. Were this conflagration to be extinguished one day, nothing would be left in the sky but extinct stars and unseeing eyes.
Saturday, the day of rest, was the day chosen for our expulsion.
The twenty-four hours we spent there were horrendous.
The doors were nailed, the way back irrevocably cut off.
Her husband was a pious man who spent most of his days and nights in the house of study.
Some pressed against the bars to see. There was nothing. Only the darkness of night. It took us a long time to recover from this harsh awakening. We were still trembling, and with every screech of the wheels, we felt the abyss opening beneath us.
The heat, the thirst, the stench, the lack of air, were suffocating us.
Another inmate appeared, unleashing a stream of invectives: “Sons of bitches, why have you come here? Tell me, why?”
Still, I told him that I could not believe that human beings were being burned in our times; the world would never tolerate such crimes.
We were coming closer and closer to the pit, from which an infernal heat was rising.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
In one terrifying moment of lucidity, I thought of us as damned souls wandering through the void, souls condemned to wander through space until the end of time, seeking redemption, seeking oblivion, without any hope of finding either.
He harangued us from the center of the barrack: “You are in a concentration camp.
As if he wished to ascertain that the person addressing him was actually a creature of flesh and bone, a human being with a body and a belly.
Remorse began to gnaw at me.
These were the showers, a compulsory routine.
At the start of the third week, our Blockalteste was removed; he was judged too humane.
The new one was ferocious and his aides were veritable monsters.
I was not denying His existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.

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Tuesday December 8th 2015, 6:58 PM
Comment by: Sunshine (FL)
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Tuesday January 26th 2016, 5:04 PM
Comment by: FluffyRules :p (CA)
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Friday March 11th 2016, 10:48 PM
Comment by: Chris X. (Canada)
Some of the words are unnecessary, such as "beadle."
Anyway, good job!
Monday March 21st 2016, 12:33 PM
Comment by: Jadan (NC)
Im the best at this frfr

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