What it's about:
A Holocaust survivor relates his experiences before and during the events that changed his life while enduring the hardships and horror of Nazi concentration camps.
What I thought:
“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”
Did I love this book? No. It was hard to read and impossible to imagine going through any of the things Elie Wiesel (or any other victim of the Holocaust) experienced. It made me sad and worried and disheartened in many ways. I didn't love the way it was written, either, but that may have been the fault of multi-language translation. (And that's not really very important in the long run.)
But I do think it's an important thing to read.
“We cannot indefinitely avoid depressing subject matter, particularly it it is true, and in the subsequent quarter century the world has had to hear a story it would have preferred not to hear - the story of how a cultured people turned to genocide, and how the rest of the world, also composed of cultured people, remained silent in the face of genocide.”
The fact that people--to this day--still deny that the Holocaust happened makes me so confused and utterly heartbroken. Genocide of any kind is a terrible loss of humanity--both in numbers and in spirit--and to deny something that ruined (or ended) the lives of generations of a certain group of people in an unnatural, horrifying, and absolutely inhuman way is completely abhorrent to me.
Some people suggest that this work is partly fictional, but to me it doesn't matter what happened down to every last detail--the fact that any of it happened in any way even close to the events of this book is disgusting, and the multitude of other accounts that corroborate said events makes me wonder why people are hung up on the details and not focused instead on the meaning and the lessons we can learn from these accounts.
In this day and age, with much more information on the Holocaust in a variety of mediums, this book doesn't stand out as much as it used to (hence my not ending up reading it before now), but I think it's still a valuable work that can help those without such an experience to understand and sympathize and maybe even be inspired to actively work against such events being repeated.
“For in the end, it is all about memory, its sources and its magnitude, and, of course, its consequences.”
Rating: 4 stars