Affirming Man

’s Dignity Essay, Research Paper

Affirming Man’s Dignity

Only three million Jews lived through the World War II, and some of them were now the strongest men alive. Among these people, Elie Wiesel and Viktor Frankl were two victims, who now lived and passed their experiences of themselves being to several concentration camps and finally survived. They had similar perspectives on the issues of suffering, love, and memory. “Suffering… adds a deeper meaning to his life… The salvation of man… in love,” Frankl said in “Man’s Search For Meaning”, an article he wrote about Jews. “Man’s dignity; it exists only in memory,” Wiesel, the author of Night, said. Night was a powerful memoir reviewing the Holocaust and the movement of Jews between concentration camps, that were filled with tremendous labor, hunger, and isolation. In addition to the terrors encountered in these concentration camps, more than six million Jews were dehumanized, beaten, and killed by SS guards. In Night, Elie Wiesel affirmed man’s dignity by recording his memories and passing on his experience, that many times suffering and retention his memories leads to a greater human dignity and moral strength, as well as the salvation through love.

Suffering, a main point in life as Viktor Frankl had said, made men different by giving them a deeper meaning in life. When the Jews were tortured by the SS guards, Wiesel once said, “We were no longer afraid of death… and gave us new confidence in life”(57). As atrocities increased, their fear of the SS guards destroying their faith was decreased, and their new hope for a new life grew because of the belief that the bad parts must end. Their new meanings in life were to find the lost joy. Once, after the Jews ran miles in the snow to a new camp, Wiesel said, “Yes, man is very strong, greater than God”(64). The Jews’ anger made themselves stronger and forced themselves to realize the truth, that the God they had always believed in did not exist anymore. This caused them to think of themselves as very strong men, and their new mission in life was to be stronger and to try to stand up for themselves. Another example of the Jews growing strength was their belief that, “We [victims] were the only men on earth,”(83). This also came out of Wiesel’s anger. The Jews’ spirits and soul made them believe the only men on earth had to be strong to remain patient and suffer through the pain. Ironically, their suffering gave many Jews new meanings in life and greater strength in terms of morality.

One other important element that helped Wiesel and others to remain strong in the Holocaust was love, and love definitely led them to salvation. Wiesel mentioned once in his book, when he almost gave up, that “I have no right to let myself die. What would my father do without me? I was his only support”(82). It was his love and care towards his father that made him want to stay alive because he loved his father so much that he did not want him to be alone by himself. He also saved all his strength just to keep his father and himself out of danger. This was how love guided Wiesel to the end. Other Jews survived aided by love too. A man in the same camp as Wiesel said, “The only thing that keeps me alive, is that Reizel [his wife] and the children are still alive”(41). His love for his family gave him the will for life. As long as they were still fine, he would try his hardest to get out of all the possibilities to die during the war and go back to his family of love. Another salvation through love could be seen when the two brothers “lived, body and soul, for each other”(48). They knew themselves were their only support and the source of love, and that in order to stay alive, they needed to live for each other. The love between the Jews led them to salvation and held them through the danger and harsh times.

Furthermore, Wiesel mentioned the issue of memory during the Barbi trial, a post-war trial of the Germans. In Night, his conscious attempt to remember the past and the things that came out of his memories forced him to remain strong. For instance, a day after the Jews arrived at Auschwitz and saw the flame of the crematories, Wiesel thought, “never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever”(32). He would always remember the fire that took away his faith, and these memories of loosing faith would later make him stronger as he said Jews were the only men on earth. As Wiesel remembered Juliek, one of the many kind-hearted victims, also a violinist, he said, “I shall never forget Juliek… as he said farewell on his violin to an audience of dying men”(90). Wiesel remembered this grand human dignity shown by Juliek which led Wiesel himself to a greater human dignity as well. Juliek was dying himself, yet he continued to think of his fellow humans, allowing them to die in peace by the aid of his music. This was a thing that Wiesel remembered even until today. Lastly, it was the anger Wiesel had that built up his memories. Once another victim of the Holocaust told him, “keep your anger and hatred for another day, for later on”(51). Wiesel kept his anger, and anger was what came out of the dehumanization. This anger gave Wiesel more strength to live on, then he wanted to revenge, but in a moral way. Now, he did this revenge by recording his memories into Night,. The whole world could see the atrocities Germans did to the Jews and many other groups during the World War II.

In conclusion, what Elie Wiesel and other Jews went through during the World War II was unimaginable, yet they made through the hardest times and got away from reality through suffering and love and memories, to strengthen themselves and greaten their dignities. As Viktor Frankl and Elie Wiesel had said, suffering gave Jews deeper meaning in life; to love and be in love led them to salvation; and their memories of everything that happened reinforced them mentally and revived their dignity. The message Wiesel hid in this memoir was that even through the ugliness of history, there are those who conquer their fear, willing their bodies and souls to continue. Everyone ought to know what happened in the past, but these issues, such as the Holocaust, were often found extremely depressing. It was essential for the remembrance of Wiesel life in the Holocaust, to have written Night. A true story, and it was believed that many readers found this book valuable by the way it had addressed the Holocaust and the message within it.


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