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"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick;
who can understand it?"
(Jeremiah 17:9, NASV)

Elie Wiesel's book, Night, is a vivid autobiography about the Holocost in the Second World War. Wiesel tells his story as a teenage Hungarian Jew near the end of World War II. Hungary was taken over by the Nazi Germans in 1944. Elie and his family were thus taken to a Nazi Concentration Camp where he experienced the horror and death of the camps. He was forever changed. Elie saw how the Nazis slowly crept towards genocide then systematically - like a machine - killed six million Jews without remorse or regret. From the wearing of David's star, to the hanging of a young boy, to Elie's liberation in mid April, 1945, Elie sees just how wicked man is and how faithful God is.

" 'The yellow star? Oh well, what of it? You don't die of it...' "(9). This statement by Elie's father shows the general optimism in Elie's home town, Sighet. When the Jewish population began to wear the star in Sighet, Elie was fifteen. Elie's father must have known the wickedness that lurked in the hearts of their soon to be captors. The wearing of the yellow star was a turning point from a slow creep to a fast dash in the death of the Sighet Jewish population. As Elie said, "The race toward death had begun"(8).

" 'Where is He (God)? Here He is--He is hanging here on this gallows...' "(62). The story of the young pipel cannot be told without emotion. Elie saw many hangings during his stay at the concentration camp but none had affected him like this one. Most pipels were despised by the prisoners, but this pipel was different; he was loved by all. He had the face of a sad angel. He and the Oberkapo were accused of sabotaging the electric power station and then sentenced to death. This hanging even affected the hard-hearted Nazi SS troops. Elie said, "To hang a young boy in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter"(61). The kapo in charge of pulling out the chairs refused to do his job, and a SS trooper had to replace him. No other incident can vividly display the viciousness and hatred of Adolph Hitler and his Nazi regime.

" 'Thus I will harden Pharoh's heart...' "(Exodus 14:4 NASB) Hitler 's elite troops, the SS, were the best trained, best equipped fighting force in Europe. Instead of being spent in combat, a large part of the SS force was used in running the concentration camps. Such was the determination of Hitler to kill the Jews. There is no way to describe the absolute shock and disbelief of the Americans when the first Sherman tanks arrived at the gate of the death camps. It was "At about six o'clock in the evening, the first American tank stood at the gates of Buchenwald"(109). Elie was liberated from Hilter's attempt to eliminate the Jews, but he would find no liberation from his memories.

When the Wiesel family had to wear the star, the evil hearts of the German Nazis was displayed against them. When the young pipel was hanged by the Nazis, this evil was vividly displayed. Even days before the liberation of the Jews, the Nazis were still trying their hardest to destroy them. These three incidents have something in common with the verse from Jeremiah: the German Nazis' hearts were full of hate and deceit. Night did an outstanding job of recapping what really happened behind those bobbed wire fences and under the guards in the watch towers. It is true that innocent men, women, boys and girls were slaughtered and burned in the crematories only because of their race. Truth reveals man: who can really know his heart?

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A Sad Postscript

Twenty-eight years after Elie's living nightmare ended, his liberators returned to the same notion of a death sentence for the select and undesirable few. Innocent, young and viable lives are the society's sacrifices for the sins of others. Without power or a voice, thirty million unborn have been sacrificed at the altar of personal whim and convenience. Are we in our silence not repeating the national sin of the German people during the Holocaust? God will forgive us but He will not remove the consequences of this scourge. We are witnesses to the symptoms of decay in a sick society and, because we remain silent, we must all share the just punishment as did the German people who have suffered for three generations.


Humanity: Is There Such a Thing?

Ben Quillen
September 4, 1997