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Elie Wiesel's Night: Author and Context

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John Staber

on 21 October 2013

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Transcript of Elie Wiesel's Night: Author and Context

Sighet: Elie Wiesel's birthplace and setting for part of


Sighet is a small, rural village located in central Transylvania, modern day Romania.
Author and Context
"Never shall I forget..."

Elie Wiesel was born September
30th, 1928.
As a young man, Elie was very devout to his faith.
He was only 15 years old when he and his
were deported to Auschwitz.
Night is Elie's memoir that details the events of the Holocaust through Elie's 15 year old eyes.
What to know...

systematic genocide of the Jewish people which took place during WWII.
The mass murder of an entire racial, ethnic, political, or religious group.
a narrative composed from personal experience. It's shorter than an autobiography because a memoir focuses on a series of events in the author's life, whereas an autobiography usually covers an entire life.
Some context to Know:
Final Solution:
The Jewish Faith
Star of David:
Symbol of Judaism, just as the cross is for Christianity. The symbol was derived from the shield of King David, the ancient biblical king of Israel. The symbol was later used by the Nazi party to single out Jews from non-Jews.
Jewish holy text:
Hitler's plan to rid Europe of the Jews
11 million people
were wiped clean from the face of the earth: 6 million Jews; 5 million other "undesirables."
How could one man do this? Hitler won the faith of the German people through his emotionally charged speeches. Through his ability to gain the trust of the German people, Hitler had the power to carry out the darkest plan in history.
Adolf Hitler
Rudolf Franz Hoss
Doctor Josef Mengele
The "Fuhrer" of Germany. He began the Nazi political party and officially came into power in 1933. Before rising to power, Hitler, an aspiring artist, was rejected by an art academy that was primarily Jewish. Some historians connect this to his overwhelming hatred of this Jewish people. He committed suicide in 1945 when the fall of his empire was imminent.
The commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Under his command 2.5 million people were executed and another 500,000 died of starvation.
Better known as the "Angel of Death,"
Doctor Josef Mengele conducted horrid experiments on the inmates of Auschwitz all in, what he claimed was, the pursuit of medicine and science. His nickname was most likely symbolic of his role in the camps as the conductor of what was called "selection." With one flick of the wrist, inmates were either allowed to live or sent to the chambers.
Known as one of the oldest monotheistic faiths, Judaism was believed to be founded over 3,500 years ago. The faith is rooted in the fundamental belief that the Jews are God's "chosen people" to exemplify holliness and ethical behavior. In no way can one Prezi do such a historically and culturally rich faith justice, so for more follow the preceding link:
The Torah, or Jewish Written Law, consists of the five books of the Hebrew Bible - known more commonly to non-Jews as the "Old Testament" - that were given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai and include within them all of the biblical laws of Judaism. The Torah is also known as the Chumash, Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses.
The Concentration Camps
Ellie's first destination
after being deported. Birkenau was the labor camp in the Auschwitz network of death camps. Here, Elie works.
The central hub of the Nazi death factories. More Jews and "undesirables" were exterminated here than at any other camp. It was as large as a small city. Elie spends much of his time here.
A memoir is a work of non-fiction.
Population of Iowa Today: 3,074,186
...the population of your home state today.
...is almost four times...
To put that number into perspective...
Population of Holocaust Victims...
Wiesel's father, Shlomo
His mother, Sarah, and sisters, Bea and Tzipora
"Arbeit Macht Frei"
Some info on the book...
Originally, Wiesel had written an 862-page Yiddish manuscript he called

And the World Was Silent
. Eventually, after multiple revisions,

was published in the U.S. in 1960.

Currently, Elie Wiesel is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor at Boston University.
Some questions
to consider as we read
What is Wiesel's purpose for this book?
What does he want the reader to take away?
Why is it important to read this book?
How does Elie's faith
progress throughout the memoir?
How does this faith in God
reflect Elie's faith in humanity?
The camps were highly organized, well oiled factories with intricate systems of organization and hierarchy. Even certain prisoners were in charge of other prisoners. Here are some terms to you'll see Elie reference in


The senior inmate of an individual camp
would oversee certain blocks of inmates
would be in charge of several inmates within a block
"If in my lifetime I was to write only one book, this would be the one" (Wiesel vii).
All videos for this presentation were retrieved from YouTube.

All images were retrieved from Google Images.
Full transcript