Elie Wiesel: Remembering horror in order to end it

Whether you return from war or elsewhere
when it’s an elsewhere
unimaginable to others
it is hard to come back.  Delbo, 256
I was a new teacher when I pulled Night off a bookshelf in my classroom.  It’s Elie Wiesel’s account of his concentration camp experiences as a teenager during the Holocaust. When I’d finished, it took me three days to feel normal again.
Years later, I had to read the book again in preparation for a grad level course in Holocaust Literature–a class I had accidentally signed into. After all, who would sign up for Holocaust Literature on purpose? Holocaust Literature would be depressing.
By the time I realized what I’d done, it was too late. The only other class that would fit my degree would have been filled by then. So I bought my own copy of Night and girded my heart.
The professor said the book would prepare us for the class. It did. The teacher was a Jewish woman. Her mother had survived Auschwitz. All she taught became so real. Continue reading “Elie Wiesel: Remembering horror in order to end it”

What Happens When the Incomprehensible Happens

In Elie Wiesel’s Night, a supposed madman comes to a Jewish community and tells the people that the Nazis are systematically killing Jews. The people’s reaction? Denial. Disbelief. Utter disbelief.
It is not until they arrive at Auschwitz that they understand that the “madman” spoke only truth. They hadn’t believed him because what was happening was incomprehensible.
It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around what happened in the Holocaust. It’s also hard to wrap our minds around child sex abuse. Continue reading “What Happens When the Incomprehensible Happens”