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Dehumanization of Jews in Night

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 959
  • Category: German

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Mike Huckabee once said, “The churches have filled in the gaps, especially when you consider that these folks have been dehumanized by this experience…It’s not just a cot, food and a shower they need, it’s a human touch, a hug and some level of respect.” Upon reading Elie Wiesel’s Night, the reader should be able to take this quote and apply it to the book. We should be able to see that no one should have to be treated like an animal and get dehumanized, but the Germans saw it the exact opposite way. They thought of the Jewish people as disgusting animals, when in reality, they are just like everyone else in the world. I completely agree with what is said in the quote. People know how bad the holocaust was, but they might not know exactly the things that happened. In Wiesel’s memoir, him and his family, along with millions of other Jews, get sent to concentration camps. Wiesel and his father get separated from the women in his family. Wiesel and his father, Chlomo, spend their time in Auschwitz working as slaves. While they are there, the Jews get beaten and killed without good reason. The SS officers would gas them, shoot them, burn them and anything else that they could do to torture them.

They treated the Jews as if they weren’t even human. A way that Wiesel’s memoir can be read is that Night is an extended example of dehumanization. Almost as soon as the Jews arrive at the camps, the officers commit a dehumanizing crime by taking the identity of the Jewish people. They get stripped of everything, including their names. First they have to give their clothes. They then get their hair shaved off. They also get soaked in petrol oil to be disinfected. Eventually, they get their new “name” tattooed on to their arm. It was a number and from then on, that’s what they would be known as. “The three “veterans” with needles in their hands, engraved a number on our left arms. I became A-7713. After that I had no other name.” (52) We as humans give a name to any living thing we love or have some level of respect for. The readers should see that Wiesel is trying to show us that the Nazis didn’t think they were good enough to even have a name. They had absolutely no level of respect for them.

They slowly took everything they had and eventually decided that the Jews don’t even have the right to have a name, only a number. Because of this, people no longer saw them as people. Therefore, the Jews were treated like animals by many people. Another dehumanizing act the Nazis did to the Jewish people was treating them like animals. While at the concentration camps and even going to another camp, they were treated like a bunch of animals. They were all shoved in a cattle car with poor ventilation, no room and a bucket in the corner to relieve themselves. In addition to that, they weren’t given a proper burial. People even give their pets burials. Why was it so hard to give another human being a proper burial? “Twenty bodies were thrown out of our wagon. Then the train resumed its journey, leaving behind it a few hundred naked dead, deprived of burial, in the deep snow of a held in Poland.” (119) The reader should see that Wiesel is showing us that the Nazis had absolutely no respect for the Jews. They just threw their dead bodies in the snow. A human gets buried or cremated out of respect or a last wish. The fact that the Nazis just threw them in a ditch, all piled on top of each other or thrown on the side of the road is just showing that they are careless and think of the Jewish people as just a bunch of animals.

An addition to treating them like animals, people also used them for what seemed like entertainment. It wasn’t only the Nazis that dehumanized the Jews, it was also regular people. When they were in the cattle cars, a workman threw a piece of bread in, creating chaos among the emaciated people. “One day when we had stopped, a workman took a piece of bread out of his bag and threw it into a wagon. There was a stampede. Dozens of starving men fought each other to the death for a few crumbs. The German workmen took a lively interest in this spectacle.” (121) When the worker saw this, he took an interest in it and eventually more people gathered around to watch and throw bread in. They kept throwing pieces of bread in because they wanted to see people fight over something for their own entertainment. The people didn’t see them as human either.

They saw them as animals and they thought it was interesting enough to keep throwing crumbs in. It wasn’t enough food to even make a difference in their hunger. The people on the outside watched the people kill each other and didn’t think anything of it. As one can see, Night is an extended example of dehumanization. The Nazis and other people dehumanized them and treated them as if they were insignificant and not as good as anyone else. They got everything they had taken away from them. They were also treated like animals, and they were used for entertainment. One should see that dehumanization is a horrible act. The dehumanization of the whole Jewish race is one of the most unexplainable and horrible acts of history. People don’t just need food and a place to sleep. They need some level of respect.

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