Elie Wiesel gives readers a tragic perspective on the horror of the holocaust. Wiesel’s book, Night, will grab you and not let you go. In terse, tightly packed sentences, he describes those scenes and his own confusion as he witnessed (in his teenage years) a chapter of life we would prefer to erase.
This young Jew saw it all. Fellow Jews from his village were stripped of their possessions and loaded into cattle cars, where a third of them died before they reached their destination. He saw babies pitchforked, little children hanged, weak and emaciated men killed by fellow prisoners for a single piece of molded bread. He even saw his mother, his lovely little sister, and all his family disappear into an oven fueled with human flesh.
Wiesel’s God was murdered at Birkenbau. Something dear and precious within his soul also died as all his dreams turned to dust.
Francois Mauriac, the Nobel-prizewinning French author, in writing the foreword to Wiesel’s book, describes the time he first met Wiesel:
It was then that I understood what had first drawn me to the young Israeli: that look, as of a Lazarus risen from the dead, yet still a prisoner within the grim confines where he had strayed, stumbling among the shameful corpses. For him, Nietzsche’s cry expressed an almost physical reality: God is dead, the God of love, of gentleness, of comfort, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, has vanished forevermore, beneath the gaze of this child, in the smoke of a human holocaust exacted by Race, the most voracious of all idols. And how many pious Jews have experienced this death. On that day, horrible even among those days of horror, when the child watched the hanging (yes) of another child, who, he tells us, had the face of a sad angel, he heard someone behind him groan: “Where is God? Where is He? Where can He be now?”1Elie Wiesel, Night (New York: Avon Books, 1969), 9.
Confusion. Tragic, horrible confusion. Experiences like those we’ve just read will do that to you.
But the vast difference between Elie Wiesel and those like Corrie ten Boom cannot be ignored. Servants like Corrie ten Boom, who endure hard consequences victoriously, testify of God’s precious faithfulness, even during days of confusion.
|↟1||Elie Wiesel, Night (New York: Avon Books, 1969), 9.|