The Holocaust

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The Holocaust and Genocides

The Holocaust and Genocides


The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide states that “genocide is a crime under international law,” and “that at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity.” This contradiction between a specific legal concept defined by an international convention and a continuous political and social phenomena characterizes both the global approach to genocide and the dilemmas it encounters. (Barnett, 2002)

The twentieth century witnessed more genocides than any other century thus far in recorded history. Beginning with the Armenian genocide in 1915, the world has seemed bent on its own self-destruction. Genocide experts estimate that more than 262 million people were killed during the genocides of the twentieth century. The number and frequency of genocides during this time period is due in part to higher population density, mass media advances, and the disconnection between politicians and the people they govern.


Q . 1:

The novel Night covers in detail the Holocaust events, but it is much more than a chronological narrative. Night reveals the destruction of all aspects of the accepted universe — the shtetl (the Jewish enclave) of Sighet, family life, the training of a deeply religious child, and the illusion of a caring humanity. Yet above all, it sets forth a sequence of experiences that result in Wiesel's becoming “the accuser, God the accused.” A universe is revealed in Night in which “anything is allowed.” After seeing a truck dump babies into a burning pit, Wiesel cries,

“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in the camp, which has turned my life into one

Long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never

Shall I forget the little faces of the children. . . . Never shall I forget those flames which

Consumed my faith forever. . . . Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul

And turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live

As long as God Himself. Never”. (Wiesel, 2008)

Night covers in detail these events, but it is much more than a chronological narrative. The power of this memoir emerges especially from the anguished questions that Wiesel's Holocaust experiences will not put to rest. Before he entered Auschwitz, Wiesel “believed profoundly.” Yet on that fateful night, and in the days that followed, his world changed forever. Optimism about humankind, trust in the world, confidence in God — Auschwitz radically threatened, if it did not destroy, so many reasons for hope. This point is illustrated especially well by one of the book's most unforgettable moments. Wiesel describes the hanging of three Auschwitz prisoners — one of them a child. As the prisoners watched the child die, Wiesel heard a man asking: “For God's sake, where is God?” Wiesel writes that “from within me. I heard a voice answer: 'Where He is? This is where — hanging here from these gallows.'” (Wiesel, 2008) 

Death's reign in the Kingdom of Night was so pervasive that Wiesel ends Night by reporting that a corpse stared back at him when he saw his own reflection in a ...
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