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Setting of Night by Elie Wiesel

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  • 0:04 The Holocaust
  • 0:44 From Train to Ghetto
  • 1:39 Concentration Camps
  • 2:13 Death March
  • 2:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and experience teaching.

This lesson explores the setting of Elie Wiesel's ''Night.'' Wiesel's experiences in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald death camps are recounted through his story of his family's suffering during World War II.

The Holocaust

Night brings the barbarism of the Holocaust to life with a realism that no other book has been able to capture. Perhaps no other work has fully mastered the reduction of humanity of that time period. In order to fully understand the depth of Elie Wiesel's book, we must consider the tragedy of the Holocaust.

Most people understand the basic facts associated with the Holocaust, a plan by the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler to systematically destroy who they deemed 'undesirable' persons, especially Jews but also Gypsies, some Slavs, political enemies, homosexuals, and communists, among others. This lesson will focus on the dehumanizing aspects of the Holocaust at each setting of Night.

From Train to Ghetto

In the opening parts of the book, the scene switches from a train-car based deportation to a ghetto. A ghetto was a segregated section of town where Jews were forced to live. Both of these were common experiences for Jews and others in occupied Europe during World War II. The most typical manner of moving imprisoned populations around Europe, especially throughout the network of ghettos, concentration camps, and death camps, was via cattle car. People were crammed on board and the trains were locked until they reached their final destination.

Wiesel portrays his firsthand experience in the ghetto of his hometown: Sighet, Romania. The ghettos may have afforded little more comfort for the inhabitants than the train cars, but these were still very tragic. Armed guards patrolled the outskirts of the ghetto, ready to shoot anyone who attempted escape. Meanwhile, Nazi authorities placed heavier and heavier requirements upon the Jewish leaders of these ghettos. Ultimately, they were simply buying time until the residents could be relocated to a concentration camp.

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