The Seniors and Elie Wiesel

The seniors are about to read NIGHT by Elie Wiesel, and they are resisting. Yesterday, as we worked on background material, I heard plenty of whining. Seems the seniors have studied the Holocaust since sixth grade. Evidently reading Wiesel’s little book is too much. Besides, it’s over now, you know. And it can’t be THAT important to remember.

We adults are sort of amazed at that. It can’t be THAT important? Not important enough to remember what happened to six million people who got up every morning, brushed their teeth, hugged their families? Not important enough to try and understand so that it doesn’t happen again?

Elie Wiesel was sixteen, a little younger than the seniors, when the Nazi horror touched his life. I did not hear of his book until the early nineties, but I have both read it and taught it since. Every time I read it, there are different things that touch my heart. One of the things that really strikes me is the scene where the train on which Elie and his family have been riding arrives at the camps. The workers who greet them are angry that more Jews are arriving. How could they not have known? Why did they not do something to save themselves? The seniors don’t realize that such horrors still happen in other parts of the world. They don’t realize that it is so often the children or others who can’t fight back who suffer.

What about the genocide in Darfur? We just watched a video in church about the children of Uganda who are kidnapped from their homes and forced to fight. That isn’t much different from forced labor. The children are taught to use weapons and desensitized by the killing of children around them. According to the video, the target ages of the children taken are five to twelve.

My oldest grandson is four.

Why can’t the seniors see that it happens again?

The Nazis didn’t take away the rights of the Jews all at once, either. They “desensitized” the people around them, taking some rights here, some rights there. You know. Like we do. First abortion is OK. Then assisted suicide. As I age, I wonder when I will see some doctor assess the elderly and decide that my health care is no longer worth what it costs society. Isn’t that what incensed people about the elderly who died in that nursing home in New Orleans? Did somebody decide their lives were no longer worth living?

Anyway. I guess I have ranted long enough. If you have not read NIGHT by Elie Wiesel, you should. It’s a little book, but it will move you. If you want more information about the Holocaust, you can go to The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website. And you can pray for the people in the country of Darfur and in other places around the world where it is night. Again.

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1 Response to “The Seniors and Elie Wiesel”


  1. 1 Carol October 26, 2006 at 12:01 am

    I heard about this book less than a year ago. I read most of it, and it was pretty sad. Unfortunately, history does repeat itself. May God help the people of Darfur.


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