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In Elie Wiesel's novel, Night, I am surprised at the number of times that the people in Elie's town, even under the heavy hand of the Germans, find reason for hope, and, again, those in the concentration camps.
When the news first comes of deportation, some of the Jews of Sighet are taken outside of their homes, which they must leave. They must stand in the sun, waiting. Their children cry for water. Finally they are told to leave, and Elie comments:
There was joy—yes, joy. Perhaps they thought that God could have devised no torment in hell worse than that of sitting there among the bundles.
After Elie and his family are finally moved, several days later, they end up in a small ghetto that seems to have been quickly evacuated. They settle in.
The people's morale was not too bad; we were beginning to get used to the situation. In the street, they even went so far as to have optimistic conversations.
After the Jews arrive at Auschwitz, the men and women are separated. They see unspeakable things, are beaten and cursed at. They end up in Block 17, run by a young Polish man who encourages the men to take heart, to support each other and not lose faith. They are then sent to bed and awaken the next morning with renewed hope.
Friends met each other. Exchanged a few sentences. We talked of everything...The general opinion was that the war was about to end.
At another point in the story, when the men are resting in the daytime, there is an air raid. Bombs drop and smoke gathers around them: the men are thrilled at the thought that they might witness their revenge in the destruction of the camp and those that run it.
Every bomb that exploded filled us with joy and gave us new confidence in life.
Even in the midst of despair, the human condition allows a person's spirit to look for hope, sometimes in the smallest things. And the small things were all the inmates of the concentration camps had to uplift them, in however small a way.
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