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People share troubling experiences to help others learn and grow from them in the future. In Night, a memoir by Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the holocaust, he describes some of the tragedies of the Holocaust that he lived through in his adolescent years. As Elie grows up in Sighet, he wants to learn more about his faith and the world around him as he looks to his two biggest role models, his father, and his close mentor, Moishe the Beadle for answers. However, in Elie’s recollection he talks about how the events of the Holocaust not only traumatized himself, but his family, and those closest to him as they endure the cruel concentration camps ruled by Nazi soldiers. In the late 1930s, Nazi Germany took control of most of Europe. They implemented a movement of Jewish civilians to contain them, which eventually led to events of the mass genocide of the Jews. Although the physical abuse of Moishe the Beadle, Elie, and his father are prominent, the underlying psychological trauma dehumanizes them by showing their changes in attitude and appearance throughout the book.

Beginning with one of Elie’s closest mentors, Moishe the Beadle experiences these tragedies first, before Elie, as he was taken away by the German soldiers. Elie had been learning more of the Kabbalah’s revelations with Moishe the Beadle. The Nazi soldiers took foreign Jews like Moishe away, however, he escaped and shared his experience with the Jews. The horrors he went through impacted him as he is described to have wept and pleaded for the others to listen to him. Elie describes how “Moishe was not the same. The joy in his eyes was gone. He no longer sang. He no longer mentioned either God or Kabbalah. He spoke only of what he had seen” (Wiesel 7). For these early survivors of the Holocaust, although they had experienced this firsthand, the people they shared this with did not believe them. This becomes a form of victim blaming because the people of Sighet did not believe him, they did not believe that Germany could not be as powerful as he is claiming. This makes him want them to understand more so he would do crazy things like yelling in the synagogue to get them to believe, but they did not, making him appear as if “he had gone mad” (Wiesel 7). Not only was he emotionally unstable because of these experiences, but “he had fallen silent. He would drift through the synagogue or through the streets, hunched over, eyes cast down, avoiding people’s gaze” (Wiesel 8). Although it was not clearly stated what happened to him physically, it is implied how harshly he was treated as it can be seen when Elie goes through it. Physically, he was torn down by these Nazi soldiers, but emotionally he seemed to be embarrassed, they had taken his soul away and with no one believing him, he had nothing left to say about it. This induces a sense of helplessness as he can no longer do anything to help his peers or himself stop the pain. As these events happened, they dehumanized Moishe the Beadle, leaving physical and emotional scars that drained the life out of him.

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Physically, this type of torment had Elie, show a whole new side of himself, as he and his father, had encountered these horrific concentration camps together. As Elie and his father entered the concentration camp in Auschwitz, Elie’s father wanted to use the facilities and as he stepped forward, he was slapped across the face, bringing him to his knees. He told Elie that “it doesn’t hurt” even though “His cheek still bore the red mark of the hand” (Wiesel 39). Although he may have said this just to show his strength to his son, throughout the beginning of the memoir Elie’s father had always expressed a tough strong exterior as if nothing could bother him. His strength begins to fade, as he continues through the concentration camp. He had been beaten by an iron bar (Wiesel 54), and the camp leader, Franek, had the “opportunity to torment him and, on a daily basis, to thrash him savagely. Left, right: he punched him. Left, right: he slapped him” (Wiesel 55). Elie realizes that his father is not as invincible as he seems, and Elie starts to feel that he is more of a burden on him for his own survival. With so many physical blows to his body, he had become weaker and by the end “his eyes were watery, his face the color of dead leaves” (Wiesel 107), and “he was worn out. Saliva mixed with blood was trickling from his lips” as “He was gasping more than breathing” (Wiesel 108). With this physical abuse of animal-like treatment, Elie had seen the worst in his father, an upsetting, more helpless side as if he were a “wounded animal” (Wiesel 106). Physically seeing that his father has changed psychologically affects him as he goes into a darker mental state. Elie’s father had physically changed but without feeling any guilt, Elie had mentally changed, as he has this inhumane thought when he describes that he feels free from his father when his father had passed on and that he can focus on himself now. Thus, by thinking in a more inconsiderate way, dehumanizes himself and his father.

By showing these changes in physical appearance and mental state, it expresses the psychological trauma that Elie, his father, and Moishe the Beadle had been dehumanized by the Nazi’s maltreatment of the Jews. The horrific events of the Holocaust brought a great deal of pain and suffering to the Jewish people. This is important however after the war was over, the world had their eyes open to the fact that dehumanization is a tragedy and that no one should be treated in that manner. This led to reparations of reform that gave everyone a set of basic human rights, and the creation of the United Nations. Unfortunately, the psychological scars in the hearts and minds of the Jews will latch on to them for the rest of their lives. People can be upset by these events; however, it is important to understand these atrocities and that people need to learn and grow and set out to change when something is wrong. Elie Wiesel did humanity a favor by sharing his darkest and most gruesome experiences, so others would not have to do the same in the future.

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