"The ghetto was ruled by neither German nor Jew, it was ruled by delusion."  What does Elie Wiesel mean by this?

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A delusion is a strongly held belief that people have even though its premise defies reason and science. It is often associated with mental disorder, but in a real sense, everybody harbors delusions. Elie Wiesel, in writing after the Holocaust, is afforded the luxury of examining the events in hindsight. The delusions that Jews held tight probably helped them to survive their horrible condition and seemed completely reasonable at the time. The delusions that they held were that they were in control and that their condition would improve in the near future. They saw the opportunity to live separate from the Germans as a positive turn of events. They would not be subjected to Nazi hostility and antisemitism. Wiesel explains the feelings held by those in the ghetto through this delusional belief:

"People thought this was a good thing. We would no longer have to look at all those hostile faces, endure those hate-filled stares. No more fear, No more anguish. We would live among Jews, among brothers."  Night, Page 12

This statement is obviously not reflective of what was really happening at the time. The Jews were sent to live in ghettos so that it would be easier to move them to camps in the future. This, however, was not what the Jews were thinking was going to happen. Here is another delusion that Wiesel points out:

"Most people thought that we would remain in the ghetto until the end of the war, until the arrival of the Red Army. Afterward, everything would be as before."  Night, Page 12

The Germans, on the other hand, operated under the delusions of Adolf Hitler. Their delusions were that they were somehow superior and had every right to treat Jews in this manner. Since both groups acted on behalf of their delusions, Wiesel states that neither was in charge of the ghetto, but the delusions themselves ruled over the people.

 

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