In Night, what does Elie mean when he says "Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever"?

In Night, when he says "Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever," Elie Wiesel means that after his experience of the mass-murder at Auschwitz, he was never able to recover his faith in God.

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Simply put, what Elie means by these words is that he can never forget those horrifying experiences he endured at Auschwitz and which destroyed his religious faith forever.

Prior to his incarceration by the Nazis, Elie was a deeply devout Jew. But his experiences of the unremitting hell that constitutes...

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Simply put, what Elie means by these words is that he can never forget those horrifying experiences he endured at Auschwitz and which destroyed his religious faith forever.

Prior to his incarceration by the Nazis, Elie was a deeply devout Jew. But his experiences of the unremitting hell that constitutes life in a concentration camp have robbed him of the religious belief that was the most precious thing in the world to him.

Like so many other Jews, Elie believed that God was all-powerful, that He was an almighty being capable of doing absolutely anything. Not only that, but God was a loving deity, a God who watched over his people and protected them from every danger.

Yet the God in which Elie believed with every fiber of his being did not prevent the Holocaust, the greatest single catastrophe to befall the Jewish people, in which Elie and his family find themselves caught up.

To Elie, it seems as if God has abandoned his chosen people. He's certainly nowhere to be seen in Auschwitz, where there is nothing but evil and suffering. This is a place where it's the Nazis who behave like gods, doing as they please and exerting the absolute power of life and death over the camp's inmates.

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Elie Wiesel's description of his arrival at Auschwitz is full of detail. He describes a Nazi officer who, although he did not know it at the time, turns out to have been the infamous Dr. Mengele. He describes people reciting the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, for themselves as they looked their own death in the face. He describes his own mental trauma, as well as his father's. Then he begins a litany of the things that he will never forget about the concentration camp.

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.

Never shall I forget that smoke.

Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.

Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.

The last of these statements is particularly significant because Wiesel (or Eliezer, the character based on him, if one reads the book as a novel rather than a straightforward narrative of events) was a deeply religious boy. The book begins with him asking his father for permission to study the Kabbalah with Moishe the Beadle in order to get closer to God. Auschwitz destroyed Elizer's faith in God, which was an effect that the concentration camps had on many who were interned in them. He could not accept that a loving God would permit such evil to occur, and his ideas about the world became darker and more tragic. Even after the defeat of the Nazis and the liberation of the prisoners, Eliezer was never able to recapture the idea of a world ruled by a loving God or to forget the precise time and place in which his faith was burned away.

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At the beginning of the novel, Wiesel goes into great detail of his religious passion, even at a young age. He believed fervently in his faith, so much so that he wept regularly during prayer and sought someone, anyone, to lead him in his studies of the cabbala.

In section 3 of Night, Elie Wiesel is describing his entry to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. As the Jews are being sorted by gender, age, and ability, they are sent in different directions. Elie and his father are sent in what seems to be the direction of the previously described crematories. As he walks with the herded crowd, they pass open fires where lorries are dumping mounds of bodies. The first fire is burning the bodies of little children, the second one is burning adult bodies. Elie can see the faces of the dead children through the fires. It is at this point that the Jews are of an understanding that they are all about to die and they begin saying the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, for themselves. This is when Elie's faith begins to wither away in the flames around him. He says "For the first time, I felt revolt rise up in me. Why should I bless His name?... What had I to thank Him for?" (page 31)

Elie begins to contemplate suicide - an unforgiveable sin - by jumping into the electric barbed wire fences surrounding the camp rather than die slowly in the fires. Just as he is about to bolt to a fence to kill himself, the group is redirected toward a barracks. 

On page 32, Wiesel says, "Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever... Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust." He is implying that from his first moments in a concentration camp, seeing the burning bodies of his fellow Jews and realizing that no one in the world was willing to step forward to stop this total inhumanity, not even God, he began to lose his Jewish faith. 

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