Night by Elie Wiesel Chapter 1 Summary

Instructor: Melissa Iturralde

Melissa is an elementary/middle school teacher and has a master's degree in educational leadership.

In this lesson, you will discover how Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel, survived the horrific nightmare we know as the Holocaust. Although Elie Wiesel did not number the chapters in this novel, we will number them according to breaks throughout the book. This summary will cover chapter 1 for all intents and purposes.

Chapter One of Night

Family home in Sighet
Elie Wiesels house in Sighet

Twelve-year-old Eliezer was one of four children in his household and lived a somewhat ordinary life as a young boy in Sighet, Transylvania (modern day Romania). Both of his parents were respected and hardworking shop owners, as well as devout Jews. With a strict Orthodox Jewish upbringing, it was expected from Elie's father that he follow the Jewish religion closely and study Jewish law. Behind the scenes, however, curious Elie explored the Kabbala, a mystical interpretation of the Bible, which is not the way of the Orthodox beliefs.

Moshe Warns the People of Sighet

Elie opens this chapter with a devastating recount of what happened to his friend and confidant, Moshe. Hungarians shipped out foreign Jews from Sighet, including Moshe, to the border of Poland. Once at the border, the Jews were handed over to the Germans to be killed and buried in mass graves. Moshe managed to escape a brutal massacre and made his way back to Sighet to warn others of his brush with death and pure evil. He experienced firsthand the Nazi brutality against Jews and lived to tell about it. Nevertheless, to his surprise, no one in the community took his warnings seriously. Therefore, the people of Sighet cast Moshe aside and dismissed his claims as absurdity.

1944: Yellow Stars and Barbed Wire

Yellow Star
Yellow Star

At this point, the Fascists, regimes of the Nazis in Germany, took over Hungary, and German armies made their way into Sighet. One may ask, Why wouldn't they listen to clear warnings and get the heck out of Dodge?! You see, the people of Sighet tried to remain optimistic or ignore reality. Some also believed that any anti-Semitic acts against Jews were only temporary or that they would remain isolated in the capital of Budapest. Eventually groups of Jews required to wear yellow stars were forced to live in over-crowded and unsanitary ghettos surrounded by barbed wire. When things couldn't seem to get worse, the Germans came back to relocate them to concentration camps, and the Jews would face even more cruelty than they could ever imagine.

Deportation to Auschwitz

Auschwitz, Poland

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