Holocaust denial, “the act of denying the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust during World War II”, has become a very interesting idea supporting numerous controversial claims. These claims being extremely ignorant, include the fact that figure of 5 to 6 million Jewish deaths was an extreme exaggeration. But in Night, a personal autobiography documenting Eliezer Wiesel’s experience in the Holocaust, proves this ‘act’ otherwise. Elie’s raw and emotional descriptions of his experience connect you to his heart, proving how real the Holocaust was. This seemingly credible story follows Elies development into a new person. Originally, Elie was a firm believer in the Jewish religion, but throughout his time, he chose to let go of his religious beliefs as they were difficult to hold onto. His identity, being the one thing he had to hold onto, was slowly deteriorating when the Holocaust caused him to lose everything. Throughout the story Night, Eliezer Wiesel transforms into a new person as he abandons his religious beliefs when his faith and trust in God is lost, as well as his personal identity being fragmented when his freedom, family, and all that is familiar is gone.
In the book, Elie witnesses and experiences events that fuel his loss of faith as he cannot reconcile his relationship with God. When Elie first saw how innocent Jews were being burned, he couldn’t fathom why God would ever allow such crimes. “For the first time, I felt anger rising within me. Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank Him for?” (Wiesel 33). Elie’s respect for God was dwindling away fast as he continuously felt his absence in the constant darkness. All these people were being tortured and murdered, and instead God was nowhere to be seen. These unthinkable events were challenging for Elie to understand and comprehend.
It logically didn’t make sense to him. All these innocent people were losing their lives over their religious beliefs, yet they all continued to believe in God. When all the others continued with their beliefs and prayers, Elie was stern in his position against God. ”Some of the men spoke of God: His mysterious ways, the sins of the Jewish people, and the redemption to come. As for me, I had ceased to pray. I concurred with Job! I was not denying His existence, but I doubted His absolute justice”(Wiesel 45). Between the choice of fasting like all the others, Elie continued to be persistent in his opinion. ”I did not fast. First of all, to please my father who is forbidden me to do so. And then, there was no longer any reason for me to fast. I no longer accepted God’s silence. As I swallowed my ration of soup, I turned that act into a symbol of rebellion, of protest against him”(Wiesel 69). Elie questioned how God not helping all these innocent people was justifiable. If Elie felt as though he had to question the integrity of God, then he didn’t see the need to force his beliefs.
Elie seemed to be one of the only people who stayed adamant in his anger against God. No one seemed to understand how God’s ignorance for their suffering would be continuous. His father was beginning to realize God’s absence as well. This showed how disheartening it was to not see God or the rest of the world recognize the pain they were going through. It was a tough choice choosing between eating a life-saving meal or following his religion and keeping faith. Repeatedly, Elie’s beliefs are tested on multiple accounts as he experiences the traumatic events occurring in the camps.
In the beginning of the story, Elie was only an innocent child, but throughout his time in the concentration camps, he is stripped of his self-identity. When Elie first arrived at Auschwitz, he had only his father and his own self to rely on. But, as he was slowly being deprived of his humanity, he was losing himself. This describes the moment when his identity and humanity began to decline, “The three “veteran” prisoners, needles in hand, tattooed numbers on our left arms. I became A-7713. From then on, I no other name”(Wiesel 42). When his father died,“I did not weep, and it pained me that I could not weep. But I was out of tears”(Wiesel 112). His name is taken, which is the containment of Elie’s whole identity.
This tattoo was stuck with him forever, and would now be a constant reminder of his lost self. A name establishes who you are. The tone gives the impression that he has no feeling about what just happened. Elie is numb to everything. Elie lost his sensitivity, almost like nothing surprised him anymore. His own father died and he didn’t feel any sympathy. And, this being one of Elie’s key character traits, his care for others, was lost. When his father passed he admitted to feeling relief, which is unexpected because of how close their relationship was. Elie’s father was slapped by a Gypsy after he asked to use the restroom, “…Then, as if waking from a deep sleep, he slapped my father with such force that he fell down and then crawled back to his place. I stood petrified. What had happened to me? My father had just been struck, in front of me, and I had not even blinked. I watched and kept silent. Only yesterday, I would have dug my nails into this criminals flesh”(Wiesel 39).
At this point, Elie has just gotten so numb and overwhelmed by everything. There was so much going on and Elie has been acclimated to the environment where he is forced to do so many things and he doesn’t feel the strength to have independence and stand up for his dad. The fear of watching his father become helpless is overwhelming and terrifying. Elie’s broken and fragmented identity and humanity overcome his mind as he becomes a new person.