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Elie Wiesel

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Elie Wiesel effectively lays out a detail-by-detail autobiographical account of his journey during the early 1940s, from his peaceful life in a small Romanian town to the German controlled area of Poland that held the notorious concentration camp Auschwitz. The horrible treatment of the 'prisoners', mostly Jews, is almost too hard to even imagine. Human beings are capable of great love, but also of extreme cruelty and hatred.

One of the most memorable scenes for me was when Elie and his family were first brought into Auschwitz. The terror and confusion was evident in all the people crowded into those trucks, yet none of them truly realized what horrible things awaited them. This was also the first time they saw the furnaces, where people were mercilessly burned alive without hardly a second thought. This was probably the most shocking thing for me.

I also was impacted by the scene near the end of the book when all the prisoners were scrambling to get whatever little bit of warmth, comfort, or food they possibly could, without even thinking about anyone else, only their own survival. This level of hardship and desperation is almost too hard for me to fathom.

In times like these presented in the book, it is easy to begin to question your faith and God's provision. Elie spends much time focusing on this point in his account, and not only in his own life, but also what he observed in others. After being beaten, starved, and humiliated, and witnessing the murder and torture of countless innocent people, including his own father, Elie can hardly be blamed for questioning God. Many questions can arise in struggles, such as "Why is this happening to me?", "Am I being punished for some sin I committed?", "Does God even exist, and if He does, does he even care?". It can be extremely hard to believe in a truly loving God when all around you people are suffering and dying every day. I think that by reading this book, Christian readers will learn a little more about suffering and faith through trials. Christians in American too often seem to be oblivious to true suffering.

Through reading this book, I feel like I now have a better understanding and sympathy for those who experienced the Holocaust.



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