Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print. (First Ed. 1958).
“Or the discovery of a demented and glacial universe where to be in-human was human, where disciplined, educated men in uniform came to kill, and innocent children and weary old men came to die?” p ix
“We believed in God, trusted in man, and lived with the illusion that every one of us has been entrusted with a sacred spark from the Shekhinah’s flame; that every one of us carries in his eyes and in his soul a reflection of God’s image.” p. x-xi
“To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” p. xv
Moishe the Beadle “He spoke little. He sang, or rather he chanted, and the few snatches I caught here and there spoke of divine suffering, of the Shekhinah in Exile, where according to Kabbalah, it awaits its redemption linked to that of man.” p. 3
“One day I asked my father to find me a master who could guide me in my studies of Kabbalah. “You are too young for that. Maimonides tells us that one must be thirty before venturing into the world of mysticism, a world fraught with peril. First you must study the basic subjects, those you are able to comprehend.” p. 4
Moishe “explained to me, with great emphasis, that every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer…” p. 4-5.
“Man comes closer to God thought the questions he asks Him, he liked to say. Therein lies true dialogue. Man asks and God replies. But we don’t understand His replies. We cannot understand them. Because they dwell in the depths of our souls and remain there until we die. The real answers, Eliezer, you will find only within yourself.” p. 5
“There are a thousand and one gates allowing entry into the orchard of mystical truth. Every human being has his own gate. He must not err and wish to enter the orchard through a gate other than his own.” p. 5
“In front of us, those flames. In the air, the smell of burning flesh. It must have been around midnight. We had arrived. In Birkenau.” p. 28
“I didn’t know this was the moment in time and the place where I was leaving my mother and Tzipora forever. I kept walking, my father holding my hand.” p. 29
“NEVER SHALL I FORGET that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.
Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.
Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.
Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself.
Never.” p. 34
“But no sooner had we taken a few more steps than we saw the barbed wire of another camp. This one had an iron gate with the overhead inscription: ARBEIT MACHT FREI. Work makes you free.
Auschwitz.” p. 40
“Have faith in life, a thousand times faith. By driving out despair, you will move away from death. Hell does not last forever…” p. 41
“But there were those who said we should fast, precisely because it was dangerous to do so. We needed to show God that even here, locked in hell, we were capable of singing His praises.” p. 69
“”Perhaps someone here has seen my son?”
He had lost his son in the commotion. He had searched for him among the dying, to no avail. Then he had dug through the snow to find his body. In vain.” p. 90
“”No, Rabbi Eliahu, I haven’t seen him.”
And so he left, as he had come: a shadow swept away by the wind.” p. 91
“A terrible thought crossed my mind: What if he had wanted to be rid of his father? He had felt his father growing weaker and, believing that the end was near, had thought by this separation to free himself of a burden that could diminish his own chance for survival… “Oh God, Master of the Universe, give me the strength never to do what Rabbi Eliahu’s son has done.” p. 91
“When at last a grayinsh light appeared on the horizon, it revealed a tangle of human shapes, heads sunk deeply between shoulders, crouching, piled one on top of the other, like a cemetery covered with snow. In the early dawn light, I tried to distinguish between the living and those who were no more. But there was barely a difference.” p. 98
“I gave him what was left of my soup. But my heart was heavy. I was aware that I was doing it grudgingly.
Just like Rabbi Eliahu’s son, I had not passed the test.” p. 107
“All of a sudden, he sat up and placed his feverish lips against my ear:
“Eliezer… I must tell you where I buried the gold and silver…In the cellar… You know…”” p. 108
“No prayers were said over his tomb. No candle lit in his memory. His last word had been my name. He had called out to me and I had not answered.” p. 112
“I had not seen myself since the ghetto.
From the depth of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me.” p. 115
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
“Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.” p. 118
“We must take sides Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When himan lives are endangered, when himan dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.” p. 118
photo essays from the atlantic. part of a ww ii series: