Reading Elie Wiesel's Night is a dehumanizing experience. But it is a novel that must be read and felt in order to gain admission to the human race.
There is so much modern-day hyperbole about what might make a person or a politician equivalent to a Nazi, and this singular book puts it all starkly into perspective: There is no such thing as a modern-day Nazi. What occurred under Hitler was so horrifying that even a whisper of real similarity, perhaps even the modern-day horrors of genocide as it now occurs, while worthy of every attention and reproach, cannot, by simple dint of systematic dedication, compare to what occurred in Europe: An entire society mechanically devoted to the desruction of a people by the basest torments conceivable, with methods continually adapted as each torment was explored to its utmost and every result applied universally.
"At every step, somebody fell down and ceased to suffer."
'"I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people."'
It doesn't matter if every last detail in this book is not accurate. In aggregate, it represents a waking nightmare.
As I read through the foreward (I always do this last) and pondered what I had read, the following thought developed in my mind. Perhaps it is unrelated. Perhaps it is prophetic.
Jesus Christ was a Jew who suffered under Pontius Pilate and died to absolve Man of his sins. Two thousand years later, the entirety of the Jewish people suffered under Adolf Hitler and in six million cases died. This time they did not suffer and die to absolve Man of his sins, but to permanently tattoo those sins to his soul.
Is it possible that the entirety of the Jewish people, not as individuals, but in aggregate, became a new Messiah—though once more, not the one they were waiting for? And might their collective message, that hideous proof of humanity's unfathomable capacity and even lust for bestiality, and of the horrifying consequences of the one eternally unforgivable sin of indifference, survive another two thousand years? Or will it already be forgotten? Christ is remembered because he promised us that everything will be okay. But the Jews of Europe assured us that no, everything is not. We must look into ourselves and kill something that can no longer be allowed to survive. We must become greater than what we have been so that this can never occur again.
The Holocaust is like a fresh imprint of Original Sin. Rather than seek knowledge of life, Man now sought knowledge of how to peel humanity away. The system was perfected, and those who have lived since are guilty for having been born to those who did not give their lives to stop it. Every fist, every foot, every inch down to the last eyelash of humanity should have been hurled at Nazi Germany in order to bring the experiment to an end.
And what became of those who survived? At the end of Night, it is clear that nobody who walked away could remain entirely human. It is then stunning to read the opening pages of Dawn to find that some of those who emerged went on to commit acts of terrorism against the British authority in Palestine.