The Holocaust was a dark and sepulchral event that began in 1933, annihilating nearly one third of the world’s Jewish population. Adolf Hitler’s goal of systematic ethnic cleansing could only be of someone with severe mental problems. The gruesome tactics of murdering, gas chambers, torture, and labor to the point of death, left the few sole survivors scarred for their rest of their lives. This event left the Jewish survivors with images and accounts of abandoning the one’s they loved, that would stay with them forever. There are some who were able to share their stories to really inform the world of what occurred from a prisoner’s point of view. In his memoir Night, Elie Wiesel used vivid, emotion-pulling imagery to communicate the loss of hope.
The Jewish people are not any different than a typical human being. Although, that is blatantly obvious, Adolf Hitler treated them as if they were just objects, not worth anything, just wasting space in this world. “The Hungarian police made us climb into cars, eighty persons in each one. They handed us some bread, a few pails of water. They checked the bars on the windows to make sure they would not come loose” (Wiesel 22). This really exemplifies the treatment and dehumanization already, at such an early point in his Holocaust experience. With being treated as if they were nothing let many to feel it was already the end for them. Some Jews had begun to completely lose their hope and sanity already at such an early point in this tragedy. Such as Madame Schachter, “Standing in the middle of the car…she looked like a withered tree in a field of wheat. She was howling, pointing through the window: ‘Look! Look at this fire!’” (Wiesel 25) She had lost hope from being separated from some family members and began going insane, not being any form of a good role model for her son. The picture was painted, that with the loss of hope, humans are as strong as a withered tree, which can fall at any time.
Hope relies strongly within one’s faith, as it is vice versa. “Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky. Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever” (Wiesel 34). The image of children, who are so pure and young, being maliciously treated would make anybody with emotions be put on edge. With such a cruel act, hope for one’s self and humanity becomes an object that seems unreachable. The flames and Death were so close to Elie, he realized that chance was what had saved him. In such a near death experience, faith was almost completely lost which puts hope on the verge to being lost as well. Losing hope can make many feel worthless and without an identity. “The three ‘veteran’ prisoners, needles in hand, tattooed numbers on our left arms. I became A-7713. From then on, I had no other name” (Wiesel 42). The image of such a quick event, as getting a tattoo, is all it takes for one to lose all of what was good and true to them.
In the concentration camps, many had nothing to focus their wandering minds on except the well being of their family members and surviving. “’Yes, my mother did hear from them. Reizel is fine. So are the children…’ He [Stein] was weeping with joy” (Wiesel 44). The weeping of joy symbolized the spark of hope that suddenly came over Stein, even when it had been a lie. Such a simple line that is emitted from a person’s mouth can truly set someone over the moon instantaneously, leaving ‘hope’ to still be possible. In contrast to finding hope solely through word of mouth; a father and son, who had each other, fought over a small piece of bread. “…an old man dragging himself on all fours. He had detached himself from the struggling mob….With ligntning speed he pulled it out and put it on his mouth. His eyes lit up, a smile, like a grimace, illuminated his ashen face. And was immediately extinguished” “His son searched him, took the crust of bread, and began to devour it” (Wiesel 101). Elie places this scene in one’s mind, making a person truly think of how pathetic and morbid of a state one must be in to fight simply over bread, and then going to the extent of the assistance of killing one’s father. Hope in humanity could easily have been eradicated from any person’s mind after witnessing a scene as horrific as this one. Elie also challenges the reader to really ponder about how lucky and great their lives are in comparison.
For many, Hope is found in children, may it be through one’s own child, or through younger generation having to time to change and make the state of the world better. In one of the camps, a child, who reminded the people of an angel, was hung in front of the entire camp. “And so he remained for more than an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range… That night, the soup tasted of corpses” (Wiesel 65). The child is thought to look like an angel for many, and the killing of him, made many lose hope in their faith. The soup tasted of corpses, describes the effect of the murder on the people, and how it left almost everyone uncomfortable. To kill innocence, is similar in killing Hope, both are horrible acts.
In his memoir Night, Elie Wiesel used vivid, emotion-pulling imagery to communicate the loss of hope. Through experiencing the loss of family, faith, and viewing such horrific events, it would seem hope would have been let go of a long time ago. Though, through it all, it has been made clear that one can still hold on to hope and continue on with their lives. Hope is an option made by each individual person, and only they can choose to give it up.