, Research Paper
Genocide in Night
Genocide: the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group. The crime against humanity, that is genocide, has plagued the world for thousands of years. Although there have been many genocides since the beginning of time, the word “genocide” was first used in 1944. Polish Jewish scholar Rachael Lampkin coined the term first. The term genocide derives from the Latin (genos=race, cide=killing) and means literally the killing or murder of an entire tribe or people. The most prolific genocide to date is the Holocaust. The Nazi Genocide of the Jewish people lasted from 1933-1945. The book Night is based on an account of a Jewish boy, being dehumanized by the holocaust. All genocides throughout history have ended up with mass murders of a civilian race.
Genocide is not a new 20th century phenomenon. Not all known instances of genocide have been recorded, but genocides have occurred many times throughout time. In 1637, the Pequot Indians were the unfortunate recipients of genocidal wrath when the Colonists exterminated them, and their village was set on fire in Connecticut. The colonists shot everybody; men, women, and children. In the 19th century, the Aboriginal population of Tasmania was annihilated. The Native Americans at Wounded Knee were another example of genocide. The Armenians, in 1921, were also the unlucky bystanders of the genocidal tendencies of the Turks. Ten years later, the Jews were being exterminated like ants in Germany. Genocide still happens to this day. From 1990-1995 the Bosnian Serbs committed genocide on the Rwandan Muslims and Tutsis in Rwanda, slaughtering thousands. As late as 1998, Yugoslavia was committing genocide to the Ethnic Albanians of Kosovo. The Serbs called it an “ethnic cleansing”. Where will the next genocide occur?
The holocaust was so terrifying, so horrible, and so destructive, that the crime that Hitler and the Nazis committed deserved a new name. The word genocide was created because word that previously described it, “mass-murder”, did not adequately describe what happened to the Jews because it failed to account for the crime, which arose solely from racial, national or religious considerations and had nothing to do with the conduct of war. The holocaust is the most noteworthy act of genocide because it was committed to a large religious group, in a technologically advanced and modern country such as Germany, and was systematically carried through with the collaboration of the German government, industries, and train systems. Many holocaust victims documented their horrific experiences. A few turned their accounts of the holocaust into literature. Ann Frank wrote a published diary about the holocaust. Ellie Wiesel wrote a book called Night, based on his experiences of the Holocaust.
Ellie Wiesel, the author of Night, writes a highly graphic and realistic account of living in the middle of the Holocaust. Wiesel goes into much detail during many instances about holocaust life, luring the reader into his hell. During his life within the Holocaust, Wiesel witnesses a child being hung, the sacrificing of a truckload of children in a fiery ditch, people being shot, his own father being beaten by other prisoners, a son beating his father for bread, prisoners eating their own waste to survive, and many other inconceivable acts. In Night, the prisoners are stripped of almost everything that makes them human. At the end of the novel, Ellie looked at himself in the mirror after many years of being a prisoner; “I saw a corpse”, he said. During the holocaust Ellie said he felt disconnected to his body, and was “dragging” it instead of walking.
Through much research and viewing images from the holocaust, I saw Ellie in many of those images. The images probably weren’t really of Ellie but for every skinny, frail, tired young man I saw, I thought of Ellie Wiesel. For every image with heaps of dead Jews, I thought of what Ellie had to see all the time. Much of the research I have done on the holocaust ties in factually with Night, making it a very believable piece of literature.
When will the next genocide occur? Probably soon. There will probably be a couple in this next century. Judging by the 20th century’s four large genocides, who’s to say this trend will let up? In the past, America, along with most other countries, did a horrible job in preventing genocide, and aiding the victims of it. It took twelve years for the madness to end in Germany. It seems like countries don’t like getting involved unless they are directly effected by it. On the other hand, America is getting better at responding when small-scale genocide may arise. Bill Clinton did a great job in 1998, in Kosovo, when he decided to intervene, with a missile attack. If every country responds the way America did (not necessarily with missiles) when faced with international genocide problems, the threat of genocide would be nearly zero. But that’s not the case. Most countries are still either apprehensive towards getting involved in something dangerous, when they also have the option sit back and let nature take it’s course. With the use of massively destructive atomic bombs, or equally as destructive chemical warfare, a genocide on a greater scale than Germany’s is easily conceivable. Until the day every country is on good terms with each other, every country is willing to help one another, and every country unites, there will always be that threat of another big genocide. Is that possible? I doubt it.