Rating: 5 out of 5
In case you didn’t know, Thursday is Holocaust Remembrance Day in America, the origins of which date back to 1978 when President Carter created a memorial commission and established Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel as the chair.
Wiesel is most famous for his memoir Night, published in English in 1960. In the novella, Wiesel recounts his experiences in various internment camps during World War II. He discusses the horrific living conditions, the beatings and murders by the Nazis, and his loss of faith in God and humanity. He even comes to see his own father as more of a burden due to the old man’s ever-waning health.
Eventually, Wiesel was rescued by the US army in 1945, but didn’t speak of his past for ten years. Then he wrote a manuscript of over 800 pages, about 100 of which was composed into Night. The book is actually the first part of a trilogy (Dawn and Day as the sequels, respectively), but I have not personally read them. However, Night is the only part of the series that is not fictional.
I read this story in high school, a couple years before Oprah selected it for her book club. It has become synonymous with the Holocaust, and although it is disturbing and graphic, it effectively conveys the tragedy to the public. In fact, I recently learned that when Spielberg directed “Schindler’s List” in 1993, half of high school students in America were not aware of the genocide, and 20% of them denied its very existence. Those figures have since been disputed.
Regardless of that poll’s results, there are still too many people today who are uneducated regarding the Holocaust and other genocides in history. Too many people today still hide behind their bigotry and say these cultural/religious groups deserved their fates.
I’m not Jewish, but I am Armenian, and Armenians also suffered from genocide during World War I. Allegedly, Hitler was even motivated to annihilate the Jews because the Armenians had been massacred relatively unnoticed by the world. April 24 is Armenian Genocide Recognition Day, so I will be returning to this theme next week.
I just want the world to memorialize those whose lives have been lost, and to do all that it can to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. We should never forget the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and other atrocities, but we should also never stop striving for freedom and peace.
Favorite Quote: “One day I was able to get up, after gathering all my strength. I wanted to see myself in the mirror hanging on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.”