I've just finished Night
, the autobiographical novel of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel. "A slim volume of terrifying power" was how The New York Times described it and rightly so. The original manuscript was written in Yiddish and translated first into French, and then into English. It was first published in France in 1958. This latest translation by his wife Marion was Oprah's latest pick for her Book Club. Of it she said, she had "a dream of my own too, that the powerful message of this little book would be engraved on every human heart and will never be forgotten again. That you who read this book will feel as I do.....that these 120 pages should be required reading for all humanity." Indeed, unlike forty-seven years ago when the book had a difficult start, today, students in high schools and colleges in the United States and elsewhere read it as part of their curriculum. The topic of Auschwitz has also become part of mainstream culture with films, plays, novels, international conferences, exhibitions and annual ceremonies with the participation of the nations officialdom. This latest version with the bonus of a preface by Wiesel himself and a foreword by French writer and Nobel laureate, Francois Mauriac, will shake you out of your little paradise and bring you face to face with the absolute evil of man and moves you into action.
There is in the world now a new commandment, proclaims Wiesel, "Thou shall not stand idly by - when such things are happening. One must act. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivity becomes irrelevant. Whenever men or women are presecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe."
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.
to visit the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.