Night Questions and Answers
by Elie Wiesel

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In Night, how do the "veteran" prisoners respond when they discover the newcomers have never heard of Auschwitz ?

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Like so much in the narrative, little is clear to those who had to endure the Holocaust.  In a lucid setting, the veterans would either give clear guidance to those who are new to the conditions of Auschwitz, or ignore them entirely, or even mistreat them as a whole.  Yet, one of the major elements of Wiesel's work is how the Holocaust blurred the lines between certainty and uncertainty, sanity and insanity, decisiveness and hesitation.  In this light, the "veteran" prisoners prove to be an obscure bunch.  There are moments where the Jewish people from Sighet offer bribes for news, and the veteran prisoners accept the bribes and allay their fears. There is a veteran prisoner who tells Eliezer to lie about his age.  This proves to be helpful because it allows him to live, but is also painful because this lie marks the last time Eliezer sees his mother.  There is not an entire sense of what the motivation of the veteran prisoners actually is.  There is uncertainty about whether or not they want to help or harm the new group that has entered.  Perhaps, this becomes Wiesel's larger message that one of the true horrors of the Holocaust was the stunning disregard for humanity that was passed on from aggressors to victims as an almost "untainted" legacy.  What the Nazis did to their victims, the targeted ended up doing to one another.  In this light, the blurring of lines and lack of certainty and totality ended up driving all consciousness.

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