What are some specific examples from the book that place it firmly in the historical context of the Holocaust?

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

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The most direct way to address this question is to argue that Wiesel is able to link the personal experiences of Eliezer with the larger context that makes the work both a subjective narrative as well as a worl of historical proportions.  Consider Eliezer's experience in first entering Birkenau with Dr. Mengele.  Dr. Mengele was a towering figure in the Holocaust, most prominent in Auschwitz.  It makes sense that Eliezer's time would interact with Mengele, confirming the historical setting in which the narrative takes place.  Another historical element that fits into the Holocaust would be earlier in the narrative with the news of the Jewish people of Sighet having to wear the Yellow Star.  This is an actual edict from the Nazis directed to those of the Jewish faith at the time, linking again the history with the personal narrative.  The liberation of the Buchenwald camp is something that was significant to the narrative and the dates that Wiesel gives in the book fits into the context of when he would have been liberated.  The seminal picture of the liberation of Buchenwald in the camp's bunks features a young Elie Wiesel, helping to place the narrative within the time period of the Holocaust.  These would be three of the examples in the text of how the work represents both Wiesel's struggle placed in the context of the larger one of the Holocaust.


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