In Elie’s Wiesel memoir, Night, Elie recounts a haunting scene after he and a group of other prisoners are forced to march between two camps on a cold winter’s night. Exhausted at the end of the journey, Elie is almost crushed by a mass of men trying to sleep. In the darkness he hears an impossible sound: Juliek playing his violin. In the morning, Juliek is dead, his crushed violin “an eerily poignant little corpse.”
There are many ways to interpret this visual metaphor. Like Juliek and the other men who did not survive the night, the violin will never ‘speak’ its beautiful music ever again. Also, something to note is that Juliek plays a Beethoven concerto. As Beethoven was German, this could represent the ‘death’ of what made Germany a noble country. Looking at the violin this way makes the moment extremely poignant for Elie, who after the Holocaust learned English and French so he would never have to speak German again.