Saturday, January 28, 2006


Oprah's pick for book of the month is Elie Wiesel's "Night," (which is not likely to be outed as untrue, unlike Frey's "A Million Little Pieces.")

As with Frey's book, this was presented as a page turner, something that everyone needed to read, something so shocking it would hold your attention to the end, something that would change your life.

I have always felt that if there is such a thing as reincarnation, then I am a recycled concentration camp occupant. The problem is that I don't know if I would have been a former prisoner, or guard. I have always fantasized that I must have been a prisoner ('cause I'm a good guy and can't imagine torturing people, even in a former life), but there is a part of me which has to accept that it might have been otherwise. But I have had a fascination for the Holocaust and stories of the Holocaust for as long as I can remember.

I suspect that the "shock" value of this book is more for people who perhaps have not thought or read much about the Holocaust. To read with brutal honesty what happened to human beings -- men, women and children -- in our world, in our lifetime (well, my lifetime anyway) is gut-wrenching.

"Night" tells in painful detail the story of Wiesel's life as an adolescent in a small village in Romania, living with his family, studying his religion and hearing tales of the approaching Nazi troops. We watch the family torn apart, shoved into boxcars and arriving at Auschwitz, where he sees his mother and sister for the last time, not knowing it was the last time.

The story follows the struggle of the young man and his father to stay alive, in Auschwitz, Buna, Buchenwald and Gleiwitz. It recounts the father's ultimate loss of his life, literally days before the camps were liberated. The book also tells of Wiesel's survivor guilt, being the only one in his family to have come out alive.

This book started Elie Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died, stating that "to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all" (a message which rings as true today as it did then). His passion for bearing witness earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

"Night" is, indeed, a gripping story, and mirrors so many other similar horror stories.
Let us remember, let us remember the heroes of Warsaw, the martyrs of Treblinka, the children of Auschwitz. They fought alone, they suffered alone, they lived alone, but they did not die alone, for something in all of us died with them.

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