In Night by Elie Wiesel, what story did Moshe tell upon his return?

In Night by Elie Wiesel, Moshe tells a story of Nazi atrocity. Once his train reached Poland, he and the other Jews were ordered off by the Gestapo. They were then taken to a forest where they were systematically murdered, men, women, and children. Moshe managed to escape by pretending to be dead. Unfortunately, when Moshe returns to Sighet, no one believes his story. More to the point, no one wants to believe it.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Night by Elie Wiesel, the story Moshe told upon his return is of the atrocities the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews during World War II. The book opens with a description of Moshe, whom the local townspeople called Moshe the Beadle. Elie and others in the town are “very fond of him.” However, when the Germans give the order that all foreign born Jews are to be expelled from the small town in which Elie grew up, as a foreigner, Moshe is among the group of deportees. The group was

crammed into cattle trains by Hungarian police, they wept bitterly.

After many months, Moshe returned to Sighet and told the local townspeople “his story and that of his companions.” Moshe claimed that once the train had crossed the Hungarian border and was on Polish territory, the Gestapo stepped in and took charge of the train and the deportees onboard. They forced the Jewish deportees to get off and climb into trucks that then drove toward the forest of Galicia near Kolomaye where the Jews were ordered to get out.

Then the Jews were ordered to dig their own graves—or rather mass pits that were to serve as graves. Once this process was finished, the Gestapo began “without passion, without haste” to slaughter their prisoners. According to Moshe, each Jew had to go up to the hole and “present his neck. Babies were thrown into the air and the machine gunners used them as targets.”

Moshe pretended to be dead and miraculously managed to escape. “He went from one Jewish house to another, telling the story,” but people did not believe him. Or perhaps they did not want to believe him. It was easier to believe that he had gone mad than to think that this was the unthinkably cruel reality awaiting them.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Moshe returns to Sighet, he has a terrible story to tell. Having been forced to leave the town for being a foreigner, he headed out east by train. As the train reached Galicia in Poland, he and all the other Jews onboard were ordered by the Nazis to get off. They were then taken to a forest clearing where they were ordered to dig pits. It became clear to the Jews almost immediately that they were being forced to dig their own graves.

And so it proved. The Nazis ordered the Jews to stand on the edge of the pits, whereupon they were shot dead. No one was spared; even small children and babies were brutally murdered by the Germans. Moshe himself was shot, but he managed to survive by playing dead. Eventually, he was able to escape from this scene of diabolical carnage and make his way back to Sighet.

As soon as he gets back to town, Moshe proceeds to warn everyone of what he saw. What happened to the Jews in Galicia will almost certainly happen to the Jews of Sighet, too. But tragically, no one listens. What Moshe is saying is simply too horrible to contemplate; people don't believe him because they don't want to believe him. And so the Jews of Sighet stay put, blithely hoping that everything will somehow turn out for the best.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Moshe the Beadle is expelled from Sighet because he is a foreigner. When he returns to Sighet, he tells Elie that when he crossed into Poland, his train was taken over by the Gestapo. The Jews were forced off the train and were driven by trucks to a forest in Galicia, where the Gestapo ordered them to dig deep pits. The prisoners were then ordered to the cusp of the pits, where they were shot. Babies were thrown into the air and then shot. Moshe survived after being shot in the leg and mistaken for dead. Moshe tells people in Sighet about his experience, but no one believes him. They think he is telling these tales only as a means to get pity or because he has an overactive imagination or has become insane. The Jews of Sighet falsely believe better times are right around the corner.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Night by Elie Wiesel, Moshe the Beadle is taken along with other foreign Jews by the Nazis before the other residents are rounded up for the camps. Moshe manages to escape and makes his way back to Sighet, the town where Elie Wiesel lives with his family. Moshe feels that he has been saved in order to warn the others about the Nazis, but nobody believes him. He tells everyone who will listen that he and the others, who were taken along with him, were transported by train into Poland, where they were transferred into lorries and driven into the forest. 

"There they were made to dig huge graves. And when they had finished their work, the Gestapo began theirs. Without passion, without haste, they slaughtered their prisoners. Each one had to go up to the hole and present his neck" (Wiesel 4).

Moshe tells horror stories of how the babies were killed and how relatives were forced to watch their families killed before they were killed themselves. Somehow Moshe was able to escape when he was shot in the leg, and the murderers thought him dead. He went from house to house in Sighet to convince his neighbors to leave, but his stories were so unbelievable, they decided he must be crazy. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial