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The Horrors of Dehumanization

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“The Almighty himself was a slaughterer: it was He who decided who would live and who would die; who would be tortured, and who would be rewarded” (Wiesel, “Hope, Despair”). The author of Night, a novel documenting the horrible and gruesome events of the holocaust, Elie Wiesel expresses his experiences and observations in which he and his fellow Jews were dehumanized while living in concentration camps. All Jews, as a race, were brutalized by the Nazis during this time; reducing them to no less than objects. These dehumanizing crimes were the punishments forced on the Jewish race by the Nazi influence, turning Jewish nationality into a nuisance against what they believed. Elie Wiesel has written the novel Night describing the heinous crime of the dehumanization of millions of Jews that the Nazis perpetrated within their concentration camps.

An example of dehumanization that Elie Wiesel provides in his novel is the lack of humane worth that the Nazis thought of the Jewish people.When the Hungarian police barged into Sighet, “A Jew no longer had the right to keep in his house gold, jewels, or any objects of value” (Wiesel 10). The Nazis deprived the Jews of any valuables and later they forced them to sit in crowded wagons that had no space to move about in. This proves how the Nazis thought of the Jewish people as too little of humane worth to be able to own any type of valuable that they could call their own. Later on, a German officer tell the Jews, “‘There are eighty of you in this wagon,’ added the German officer. ‘If anyone is missing, you’ll all be shot, like dogs….’” (Wiesel 22). This shows that the Germans had no respect for the Jewish people. This also proves that they thought nothing of them. Instead the Germans compared the Jews to being like “dogs” or animals, which emphasizes that they were not capable of the good qualities a human can have. The Nazis later express how they had absolutely zero respect for the Jewish people as they are being transported to the concentration camps.

The process of dehumanization then continues when Eliezer, his family, and his fellow Jewish people reach Auschwitz, which was one of many concentration camps Hitler made in Germany. The Germans make sure to treat the Jewish people with little or no respect as soon as they arrive at the camps. When the Jews were let off of the wagon the first thing one SS man says to the group of Jews is, “Men to the left! Women to the right!” (Wiesel 27). Here they treat the them as if they were a herd of animals giving commands to men, women, and children only to separate them from their families and loved ones. After the separation Eliezer comes across the crematories, “A lorry drew up at the pit and delivered its load-little children. Babies!…those children in the flames” (Wiesel 30). This dehumanized the Jews because they could smell, hear, and see their fellow Jews being burned to death. This horrendous act becomes even more malicious when knowing that most of the people that were being thrown into these flaming ditches were unclothed and were sometimes even still alive. This shows that the Germans did not have the care nor the respect if they had killed a full grown adult, a young child, or even a baby. Nazi treat and think of the Jewish race as nothing more than mere objects or animals as Elie Wiesel begins to emphasis this later on in the novel.

The dehumanization of the Jews was again displayed later on when the Germans continue to treat the Jewish people as animals or objects. Wiesel states, “Our clothes had been left behind in the other block, and we had been promised other outfits. Toward midnight, we were told to run” (Wiesel 38). This dehumanized them because the Germans made the Jews run in the cold night air with no clothes on as if they were some type of immortalized inhumanly object. Later, while still running the guards tells the Jews, “The faster you run, the sooner you can go to bed” (Wiesel 38). Even though it was cold the guards made the Jews work for the clothes they had wear and for the bunks they had sleep in. They deprived them of any type of human right as if they weren’t human enough to have these rights. Another example of dehumanization is when Eliezer becomes “A-7713”. Wiesel says, “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” (Wiesel 39). This shows the dehumanization of Eliezer because now he is referred to as a number in a line rather than himself. No one now will ever know him by name- Eliezer -but for a number for the next couple of years he will spend in the concentration camp. Nazis wanted to belittle the Jewish people and make them feel as if they had no right of any humanely title and treated them as objects or maybe even as animals.

The Germans heinous crimes against the Jews caused the Jewish people to turn against one another, dehumanizing each other and even themselves. Another part of dehumanization used in Wiesel’s novel is how the Jews attitude towards each other began to change as they move from one camp to another camp at the end of World War II. The following explains the beginning of Eliezer’s dehumanization, “I did not move. What had happened to me? My father had just been struck, before my very eyes, and I had not flicked an eyelid” (Wiesel 37). This quote shows that Eliezer has lost his respect for his father because he did not try and stop the gypsy from hurting him. This dehumanizes him because it shows how he could just sit and watch his father be beaten right in front of his eyes without feeling any self emotion. ‘Throw out all the dead! All the corpses outside!’…‘Here’s one! Take him!’ they undressed him, the survivors avidly sharing out his clothes, then to ‘gravediggers’ took him, one by the head and one by the feet, and threw him out the wagon like a sack of flour” (Wiesel 94). This shows dehumanization because they were able to dispose of their own fellow people and feel no sense of remorse or pain towards their inhumanely actions. “Meir. Meir, my boy! Don’t you recognize me?

I’m you father…you’re hurting me…you’re killing father! I’ve got some bread…for you too…for you too….” (Wiesel 96). The quote explains how even a son would turn against his own father for a bit of bread to snack on proving just how dehumanizingly savage and cruel the Jews were towards one another. The Jews dehumanized themselves as well as each other by turning against their own family and people without feeling any sense of remorse or regret.. Wiesel’s novel Night clearly displays the dehumanization of Eliezer, his family, and his fellow Jews. Wiesel explains the process thoroughly from the start of the novel to the end where Eliezer finally sees how he himself had become dehumanized. It reveals the harsh treatments given by the Germans and the deprivation of the Jews worth as being in any way humane. The novel also provides the revelation of the the effects due to the vicious and dehumanizing behavior that the Jews inflicted on one another that was inherited during the time spent in the concentration camps. Elie Wiesel expresses how the Germans had no respect for his people as well as the treating and thinking of the Jews as objects or animals. Elie Wiesel’s novel Night gives us an inside look of the dehumanization that was being placed upon the Jewish people because of the influence of the Nazis.

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