What if God fails you? What if you fail yourself? What if humanity fails? Elie Wiesel’s Night is a tale of such failures of great magnitude. It is the author’s testimony to the events of the Nazis’ concentration camps.
He speaks of the day they were lead away from the ghetto where they lived that was dedicated for Jews:
The streets resembled fairgrounds deserted in haste. There was a little of everything: suitcases, briefcases, bags, knives, dishes, banknotes, papers, faded portraits. All things one planned to take along and finally left behind. They had ceased to matter.
A man tells the young Elie and his father what was in store for them in Auschwitz the concentration camp:
“Over there. Do you see the chimney over there? Do you see it? And the flames, do you see them?” (Yes, we saw the flames.) “Over there, that’s where they will take you. Over there will be your grave. You still don’t understand? You sons of bitches. Don’t you understand anything? You will be burned! Burned to a cinder! Turned into ashes!”
He speaks of the horror of witnessing a child’s hanging and losing faith in God:
But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing…
And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished.
Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
“For God’s sake, where is God?”
And from within me, I heard a voice answer:
“Where He is? This is where– hanging here from this gallows…”
He speaks of his sorrow of not having answered his ailing father’s calls:
The officer came closer and shouted to him to be silent. But my father did not hear. He continued to call me. The officer wielded his club and dealt him a violent blow to the head.
I didn’t move. I was afraid, my body was afraid of another blow, this time to my head.”
The author was among the survivors. Yet he was never the same. Failure came in many shapes and forms: failure of God to protect his creatures; failure of humanity to prevent this great evil from taking place; his own failure to answer the calls of his father.
We often confront failure in life. The pain could be great and it may seem we are living the night’s darkest hour. But no matter how long pain persists and bleak night gets, there will always be the break of dawn.