Elie Wiesel lived in the Jewish community within the town of Sighet, Hungary. It was not a completely closed community, as there was some interaction with the non-Jewish residents of Sighet, especially since Elie's father was a recognized leader among the Jews but also had contacts with "the upper levels of the Hungarian police." For Elie, however, the world revolved around his studies, the synagogue, his parents' shop, and the Jewish mysticism he studied with Moishe the Beadle. His desire to delve more deeply into the Jewish faith was at odds with his father's directions that he needed to spend more time with "the basic subjects" of the world and his faith, but Elie persisted and felt himself learning and growing as he did so.
Within that circle of influence, Elie and the others felt secure, isolated by distance from the rising threat of the Nazis in Germany and protected by the passage of time. As 1941 went by, then 1942 and 1943 and into 1944, the confidence grew. "Germany would be defeated. It was only a matter of time, months or weeks, perhaps."