Imagery is a portrait that is painted in your mind, a portrait that makes you feel you are there. The Holocaust is full of disturbing and horrible images of death. Pictures of inhumanity that just make you sick looking at them. In many images you see the pale, unemotional faces whose lives were changed for eternity, and yet with these images some believe that the Holocaust did not happen. In the Holocaust there was mass genocide of over six million Jews.
Also many ethnic Poles, gypsies, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, disabled people, homosexual men, and political and religious opponents were targeted by the Nazis to be exterminated. Hitler’s ultimate goal during the Holocaust was to ensure the creation of an Arian race. Fortunately the Holocaust was ended in 1945 when Germany was defeated. There were many survivors of the Holocaust, one of them being Elie Wiesel. He would later write a novel called Night, which is about his life experiences during the Holocaust.
There are many powerful and telling pieces of imagery in the novel Night, such being Elie’s first day at Auschwitz, the hanging of the child at the gallows, and Juliek’s last symphony. Elie stats, “Never shall I forget the night, the first night in camp that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed” (Wiesel, 34). On this night Elie notices flames bursting into the almost hopeless sky. The smoke from the flames was as dark as coal and the smell worse then sulfur. What could be feeding such a raging flame, Elie wonders.
As Elie gets closer he sees what is feeding the hungry flames, “Babies! Yes, I did see this, with my own eyes…children thrown into the flames” (32). He could not believe what he was seeing “I pinched myself…How was it possible that men, women, and children were being burned and that the world kept silent? No. All this could not be real. A nightmare perhaps…” (32). The millions of ashes in the sky that Elie and many others are breathing in are the ashes of screaming, helpless children that were burned to death. What a gruesome taste of death and sorrow.
Along with this he heard other Jews reciting in Kiddish, “Yisgadal, veyiskadash, shmey raba…May His name be celebrated and sanctified” (33). This angered Elie, “Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent. What was there to thank Him for? ” (33). Then, when he was steps away from the flames he found himself whispering the very words he was angered by. Now with his heart about to burst he was face-to-face with the Angel of Death. But today would not be his last, as he was ordered to turn left along with his father and head into the barracks. One day, as we returned from work we saw three gallows…Three prisoners in chains-and, among them, the little pipel, the sad eyed angel” (64). Elie is among thousands of onlookers about to witness the hanging of two men and a helpless child. The child standing on the gallows “was pale, almost calm, but he was biting his lips as he stood in the shadows of the gallows” (64). If you were in that child’s mind and body you would feel him trembling in fear. You would hear his crying for help and his prayers to God that he does not want to die.
The Lagerkapo refused to act as executioner, so three SS took his place. Two of the men used their last breath to say “Long live liberty! ”, but the boy remained as silent as a mouse. Then Elie heard from behind him, “Where is the merciful God, where is He? ” (64). When the three chairs were tipped over, the camp went into a total silence. Such a deep silence you could hear a pin drop. In the background the sun is setting on the horizon. Elie and many others start to cry in anguish, but the worst has yet to come. They still have to march past the bodies of the hanging. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish” (64). But then there was the revolting scene of the third rope. It was still moving, the child was not yet dead. He hanged there for more than half an hour wiggling like a worm, “lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes” (65). When Elie passed him he was still alive and his tongue was still red, his eyes still open. Elie heard behind him, “For God’s sake, where is God? ” (65). During that night Elie’s soup tasted of corpses.
Imagine being in a cell filled with hundreds of people that are sweaty and repulsively smelling. That is what the barracks is like for Elie. People piled one onto of another all moving and gasping for air. Some people are even senselessly being trampled and killed. While in the barracks Elie can hear desperate, familiar cries beneath him, “You’re crushing me …have mercy! ” (93). It took Elie a minute, but he remembered who the familiar voice is from, Juliek. He is the boy from Warsaw who plays the violin in the Buna orchestra. Elie yells out, “Juliek, is that you?
Eliezer…The twenty-five whiplashes…Yes…I remember…. Are you all right Juliek?… All right Eliezer” (93). Elie is glad to hear that Juliek is alive, but thought he lost his mind when he said, “I…I’m afraid…They’ll break…my violin…I…I brought it with me” (94). Elie could not answer for someone has just lain on him, preventing him from breathing from his mouth and nose. Sweat was running all over Elie as he said to himself, “This was it; the end of the road. A silent death, suffocation. No way to scream, to call for help” (94). Elie tried with all his might to get rid of this invisible assassin.
Whatever energy Elie had left he put into his nails, scratching through dead and dying flesh until he made a small hole, in which he could drink a little air. A little while later Elie hears something, “A violin in a dark barrack where the dead were piled on top of the living. Who was this madman who played the violin here, at the edge of his own grave” (94-95). It was Juliek, “All I could hear was the violin, and it was as if Juliek’s soul had become his bow. He was playing his life. His whole being was gliding over the strings” (95).
This would be Juliek’s last symphony, for when Elie awoke in the morning Juliek was dead and his violin trampled, “an eerily poignant little corpse” (95). As you can see Elie’s first day at Auschwitz, the hanging of the child at the gallows, and Juliek’s last symphony are all powerful and telling pieces of imagery that make the novel Night come to life. If Elie Wiesel did not survive the Holocaust we would be missing a crucial part of history, from a man that has been through it first hand. The Holocaust was one of the most heinous and cold-blooded events to happen in world history.
The genocide of over six million Jews and the extermination of ethnic Poles, gypsies, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, disabled people, homosexual men, and political and religious opponents by Hitler and the Nazis will never be forgotten. There are many sickening and unbelievable images that have come from the Holocaust and yet some people have still come out to say the Holocaust never happened. Without imagery it would be almost impossible for you to paint a portrait in your mind, a portrait that makes you feel you are there.