My final book for the flight was Night by Elie Wiesel. In this short but terrifying memoir, Wiesel tells of his Jewish family’s persecution, deportation, and deaths by the Nazi regime during World War II. They endured horrific, dehumanizing treatment – sequestered in ghettos, transported in overcrowded cattle cars, and beaten, starved and murdered in concentration camps. Wiesel is candid about his transformation under this treatment, telling of his struggle to maintain faith in God as well as his own humanity. It was by far the most depressing book I read in my WWII book flight – even though the reader knows Wiesel lived to tell his story, there is no hope, just the worst of humanity put on display. My edition includes Wiesel’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech from 1986 and it offers some insight into the author’s intentions of recording these horrors – so that we may not forget.
As long as one child is hungry, our lives will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs.
– Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech