Saturday, September 16, 2017

A timely reminder …

… Why Elie Wiesel’s ‘Night’ Still Matters So Much To Me – The Forward. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Many of us have been struck by the fact that it took Elie 10 years to prepare himself to put into words the horrors of what had been done to him and to his family and to his people. A whole 10 years before he could begin to write. And when he did so, in the spring of 1955, this wise old man who had been to hell and back was just 26 years old. What must it have been like for this man, in his Paris lodgings, to rouse the demons — to hear once again what he called the “silent cries”? “While I had many things to say,” he would later write, “I did not have the words to say them….. How was one to rehabilitate and transform words betrayed and perverted by the enemy? Hunger — thirst — fear — transport — selection — fire — chimney… I would pause at every sentence, and start over and over again. I would conjure up other verbs, other images, other silent cries. It still was not right.” He reimmersed himself in that period, into the darkness of night. The approach that came most naturally to him was blunt and unsparing. What he bore witness to — and thus relived — were the horrors inflicted upon him, but also his own most searing moments of dehumanization, when he could not bring himself to help the person whose companionship had helped keep him alive in Auschwitz and later, on the death march — his father. As he eventually wrote, “He had called out to me and I had not answered.”

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