Did the prisoners ever think about resistance?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that this becomes one of the critical points in Wiesel's work.  The element of resistance suggests that individuals who are in the camps see themselves as part of a larger collectivity.  Wiesel is radical and profound in his assertion that the real horror of the Holocaust was how the Nazis were able to effectively remove feelings of resistance in that they were able to dehumanize those who were in the camps.  At points where there might be resistance or the desire for revenge to be externalized, the Nazis were effective in displaying such brutality that no one would speak out or collectivize again.  Consider the hanging of the little boy suspected in being a member of the resistance.  The fact that the Nazis would hang a child and then subject the rest of the prisoners to march past and watch him struggle because his neck was too small for the noose that hung him represented such cruelty and savagery that it undercut any potential hope for manifesting resistance as well as externalization of revenge.  Consider the closing words of the chapter that details this horror:

One of the prisoners asks, “Where is God now?” Another answers, “Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging on this gallows.”

This idea that God, or the redemptive power of salvation and deliverance, is absent or having been silenced by the power of Nazi cruelty is one way in which resistance amongst the prisoners as well as the desire to exact revenge in the camp is silenced and suppressed.


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