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Summary of Night, a true story by holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel

Night is a true story by Eliezer Wiesel, a survivor of the holocaust. He comments his journey through hell while his view about God, Humanity and family are forever changed.

Page 0 to 20 (Sighet ghetto to the small ghetto)

Eliezer is a small twelve years old boy in the small Hungarian village of Sighet. He has two sisters. His father is highly respected in the Jewish community. Both parents are shopkeepers. The story takes place in 1941. Eliezer study the Talmud. He also speaks with a strange homeless Jew, Moshe the Beadle. He teaches him many spiritual things about Jewish traditions and religion.

Sometime after, all Jewish foreigners are expelled from the town. This includes Moshe. The village forgets the anti-Semitic act. Some months after, Moshe comes back. He explains his story: he was transported to the Polish border in trains, they were ordered by the Gestapo to dig mass graves and they were gunned down. He survived and thought his mission was to explain his story to everyone. No one in the village believed him.

In the spring of 1944, the Nazis took the power in Hungary. Soon, they came in the small village and forced the Jews to give valuables, to wear yellow stars and forced them to live in ghetto. These ghettos were crowded and guarded. Page 20 to 40 (Small ghetto to Auschwitz)

Eliezer misses an occasion to escape because the rest of his family do not want to. The night after, they embark on the train in direction of Auschwitz. These wagons were made for cattle. They are more than full with people. The conditions are horrific. They have almost nothing to eat or drink and the heat is intense. There is a woman who became crazy and cried that she saw fire in the sky. People always had to calm her but she came crazy again later. However, when the train arrives at his final destination, Auschwitz, there was fire in the sky, coming from the chimney that incinerates the bodies of those who don't work enough. It emanates a foul stench. Eliezer, when he exits from the train, is separated from his mother and his sisters. A prisoner says to him and his father to lie about his age if he doesn't want to be killed. They see piles of burned human bodies. Children and adults. They can't believe what they are seeing.

When they arrive at their barrack, they are cleaned with gasoline, they are shaven and their clothes forever removed. They get prisoners attire. Eliezer see his father get beaten only because he asked for the bathroom.

Page 40 to 65 (Auschwitz to Buna)

A relative ask them if they heard something about the Stein family. Eliezer lies. Later, the relative found out the truth when a train with his family came.

They are escorted to a four hours walk to a work camp called Buna. They have a medical inspection. They are housed in the musician's block and they work in a warehouse with electrical fittings. Soon after, Eliezer hat to go to the dentist to have a golden crown be removed. He fakes an illness to miss the appointment. Sometimes after, the dentist is arrested for illegal gold teeth trading. The Kapo of Eliezer beats him regularly. He meets a French girl who works in the same warehouse. The girl sympathizes for him. The narration suspends; Eliezer tell the reader how he met the same girl after the Holocaust in Paris.

Eliezer's father is again beaten up, this time by Idek, the Kapo. The boy is angry at his father for not trying to escape the Kapo. A prison foreman named Franeck notices the gold crown of Eliezer. Franeck beats Eliezer's father until he gave it to him. Franeck and Idek are transferred to another camp. Then, there is an Allied air raid. Eliezer form up and watches a man trying to eat an unattended soup left on a table. The man gets shot. A week after, a gallows was built to hang resistant and people who stole during the air raid. One of the condemned is a little child. Every witness cried when the kid died. Eliezer thought God died when the kid died.

Page 65 to 97

It's the end of the summer of 1944. Even if they are trapped in the Buma work camp, the Jews pray in the Jewish holidays like Yom Kippur and the Day of Atonement. Eliezer fall in a deep spiritual and religious crisis. He now believes that man is stronger, more resilient and more forgiving than God, that the Jews are not the chosen people by God. Indeed, he doesn't care about the holidays and eat on the day of fast. He goes find his father and see misery on his face. They have a great moment of bond.

After the holidays, there is a new selection. Sadly, the father of Eliezer is judged too weak to work. His father gives him a knife and a spoon, the only inheritance he can give. Eliezer leaves to go work. A miracle happens: there was a second selection in the “weak”. His father survived. Even with that event. Eliezer tell a rabbi he doesn't believe in god because of the atrocity happening in the concentration camp. He is not the only one losing his faith: an inmate tells him he has faith only in Hitler, because he is the only one to keep his promises to the Jewish people.

When the winter arrives, Eliezer gets a swollen foot. He rests in a hospital. While there, he learns that the German army is taking a beating from the Red army. He and his father decided to leave with the Germans evacuating the camp, thinking that those who didn't left would get shots. After the war, they learned they made again the wrong decision: the Red army liberated the camp few days after. And so they begin their march to Gleiwitz. The walk is difficult because of Eliezer foot. Soon they arrive in midnight. The Jews runs to the barracks because it represents life for them after countless hours of walking. Eliezer is walked on. He searches for air. In the middle of the chaos, he finds his friend Juliek, the violinist from Buna. Eliezer cannot break free and decide to sleep in the middle of the corpses. He hears Juliek playing his violin. When he wakes up next morning he saw Juliek, dead.

They were kept in Gleiwitz for three days. Then, the SS made again a selection. Eliezer saved his father by creating a small riot, by running to the left side and taking his father to the right. Some people died, but not them. After the riot, they went in a field and waited for a train to send them in Germany. Jews were so thirsty they ate snow.

Page 97 to 120

The train will bring them to Buchenwald. They are stored in roofless wagon. This infernal journey will last ten nights. They are not fed, so they fight each other’s for the bread villagers throw them. Eliezer watches a son kill his own father for food, then get killed by others man. Eliezer is one night awakened by someone trying to kill him. His father and one of his friends, Meir Klatz, save him. Eliezer tell a story happening after the war. He is in a city in Yemen. He watches a rich Parisian woman giving money to a child. His friend then jumps on him to grab his money. They fight. Eliezer, witness this and ask the woman why she is doing that. She says: “I like giving charity”.

Back to the Holocaust. When they arrive in Buchenwald, on the one hundred men in the wagon, only twelve remains, including Eliezer and his father. Meir Klatz is dead. His father is very weak. He refuses to move. After trying to convince him, Eliezer goes sleep in a barrack. An air raid wakes him up. He then tries to find his father. He finds him and helps him by giving him coffee and soup. But a part of Eliezer inside him wants to keep the food for him, for a greater chance of survival.

His father has dysentery. He is very weak and thirsty. Doctors don’t want to help the old man and other prisoners steal his food. When the SS patrol the barrack, they beat his father. On January 29 of 1945, when Eliezer wakes up, he learns that his father was sent to the crematory. He doesn’t cry, he is relieved that his father does not suffer anymore. On April 5, with the American troops coming in, the Nazi decides to kill everyone. On April 10, there are only twenty thousand Jews left. The Nazis evacuate the camp and kill everyone. But the air raid siren stops the evacuation. Then, the resistance movement drives out the SS and liberates the camp. The day after, the US Army liberates the camp. Eliezer, suffering from malnutrition, has to spend several weeks in the hospital. He looks at himself in a mirror for the first time since he left Sighet. He sees a walking corpse. He sees himself as another person after the Holocaust.


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