Dehumanization Essay

Dehumanization is a critical subject in Night due to the camps revolving around inflicting suffering for Jews. Wiesel’s experience with dehumanization at the hands of the Nazis destabilized the foundations of his identity, seen through his relationship with his father, his faith, and his guilt from survival.

Through the course of the book, Wiesel and his father’s relationship transitions from not being close, to be insepreable and protective. However, at the end of the book, Wiesel is more focused on fighting for his own survival. At the beginning of the book Weisel’s father was aloof and distant, however when they arrived at the camp, they became close and would risk it all to protect each other. Furthermore towards the end of the book, Wiesel is ready to let his father go for his own benefit. During the time in the concentration camps, they were protective and loving. For an example, Wiesel’s father says to him, “His voice was terribly sad. I understood that he did not wish to see what they would do to me. He did not wish to see his only son go up in flames”(33) Wiesel’s father never worried about him until they were taken to the camp. At the camp when Wiesel thought he was going to die, his father was loving and hurt because he loved his son and didn’t want him to go through and see these awful treatments. This shows dehumanization because the camps practically demolished Weisel and his father’s relationship.

Also, through the events of the book, Wiesel was deeply involved in his faith at first, then when they arrived at the camp and started seeing all the inhumane ways the Nazis treated the Jews, he became angered at God. After all, at the end he becomes close to God again. At the beginning of Night, Wiesel was greatly involved in his faith and wanted to learn Kabbalah, but when they arrived at the camp, he was upset with God for allowing this happen to them and not helping them. Once the camp was liberated, he starts to become closer to God again and begins working on his faith. During the camp when prisoners were praising God, Wiesel thought, “For the first time, I felt anger rising within me. Why should I sanctify his name? The almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank him for.”(33) Wiesel felt angered with God because he felt why should he praise God while they are suffering and God is doing nothing about it. He was dismayed at why everyone was praying and praising him for nothing. This shows dehumanization because they took away something that was meaningful to Wiesel’s life, his faith.

Wiesel expresses throughout the book that he is unworthy of living, or surviving while there are so many other innocent Jews that are dying. Wiesel has survivor's guilt because he was the one that survived. He feels as though he doesn’t have anything to live for, therefore he feels like he’s already dead. Wiesel’s vows to never forget what he saw, including when he saw young children being killed, “A truck drew close and unloaded it’s hold: small children. Babies! Yes, I did see this with my own eyes… children thrown into the flames.”(32) Wiesel explains that after everything he witnessed that if he were to survive, he would promise to never forget anything. He was remorseful especially for the younger children because technically he was one and could have ended up like that. This example also shows dehumanization because the events that happened at the camps were unforgettable so Wiesel never fail to remember anything. 

These examples show the Holocaust affected his relationship with his father, his faith, and most importantly, his guilt of survival. All of these experiences show all the dehumanization by the Nazis that Wiesel witnessed. The Holocaust was an awful event where countless innocent Jews were tortured, put to work, and killed. It’s very important that we remember how dehumanizing the Nazis were towards Jews.