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.