Thursday, February 2, 2023

1000 Books Project: Part One of Elie Wiesel's Night Trilogy - Discussing Night

I will never ever understand how human beings could treat their fellow man so horrifically. The Holocaust is what happens when people turn a blind eye to what is slowly developing in their back yards. It could happen again, people. As much as I hate to say that, I can't help but believe it. I don't want to get political, but I just have to say that I never thought I would see America becoming what it is becoming. Our very Democracy trampled upon.

Let's talk a bit about why this Night has been challenged or banned. First, some information...

One of the key consequences of book banning is erasure. When we decide that some things are too uncomfortable to talk about, we risk losing the memory of how things happen. We lose context, we lose people, we lose the truth.

That seems to be the case according to a recent study by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. The New York Times summarizes, “Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million. Forty-one percent of Americans, and 66 percent of millennials, cannot say what Auschwitz was. And 52 percent of Americans wrongly think Hitler came to power through force.”

Read that second paragraph again. Let it sink in. That is a very high percentage of people who know nothing, but let's ban all the books about it so we can get that up to 100 percent. I knew about the Holocaust when I was as young as elementary school age. My parents did not shield me from it because they understood the importance of knowing and acknowledging what happened. 

In 2017, the Conejo Valley Unified School District adopted an opt-out policy where parents could object to reading materials in the core list. While no books were actually taken off the list, enough parents opted-out their children from reading Night that the teacher could not effectively teach it to the rest of the class.

The other thing to point out in the second paragraph above "52 percent of Americans wrongly think Hitler came to power through force." Night starts out when Elie and his family are still living their daily lives, but we start to see gradual changes in their lives, until finally, the family is separated and Elie and his father are on their way to Auschwitz. Even the Jewish people, their neighbors and friends, ignored the warning signs because, really, what did they have to compare it with. In their minds, they could not fathom it, even when Moche the Beadle warned them. 

Only through history, and learning these subjects, instead of brushing them under the rug, can we understand how easily Hitler accomplished what he set out to accomplish. We cannot turn a blind eye to things going on in the world just because they are difficult to face, or because we think it could never happen. It happened. It could happen again. 

Elie Wiesel said: "We may use words to break the prison." In this video, he explains that he wrote his memoir Night out of a duty to bear witness to his experiences in the Holocaust.

We must keep reading books with subjects of injustice. We must keep reading, and spreading the word about how and why books are challenged or banned. 

International Holocaust Remembrance day is on January 27 every year. Let us never forget what happened. Let us not let future generations forget. 


What did you think of Night? Share any and all thoughts in the comments.

We are reading Book Two of the Night Trilogy, Dawn, this month. According to our reading schedule, I will post the discussion on (around) February 28. 

Sources of quoted (italicized) information:

5 Banned Books That Will Help You Learn About the Holocaust

Facing History and Ourselves, “We May Use Words to Break the Prison: Elie Wiesel on Writing Night,” video, last updated April 19, 2022.

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  1. Amen to all you wrote. I'm in the process of watching the PBS Ken Burns film The U.S. and The Holocaust. Just finished Night and plan on getting the next two soon. Just read The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen as well. Hard reads but reads that must be read and shared. I was struck in Night by how dehumanized some became that they turned on each other. Another awful and horrific thing that happened in the Holocaust. Thanks again for setting this up. I've been meaning to read this series for awhile now.

    1. My mom read Holocaust by Gerald Green many years ago. She said it's really good. I need to read it, but probably a bit after I read this one. I will probably need a break from the sadness. I noticed that too, about the dehumanization. Survival of the fittest? It's really sad to think sons gave up on their fathers, left them behind, let them die.


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