In Night, why did the citizens resist the truth even when it was in front of them?

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brodertj eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the early pages of Elie Wiesel's Night, Elie and the other Jewish residents of Sighet do not believe in the rumors of the Holocaust. The firsthand account told by Moshe the Beadle does not convince them either. Why do they maintain this state of denial? There are two reasons.

Though Hungary was an Axis power during World War II, it had no national policy of antisemitism like that found in Nazi Germany. Until the German invasion of Hungary in the spring of 1944, Hungarian Jews lived fairly normal lives. This lack of persecution made it easy for many Jewish people to feel safe. Also, though many people in the book are aware of Hitler's antisemitic policies, they believe that the war will be over before Hitler has the chance to harm them. 

Another reasons that the Jewish citizens do not realize the truth until it is too late is that they do not believe Moshe the Beadle's story. Before the war Moshe was seen as an eccentric figure, and people view his ramblings about the Nazis murdering Jews as at best an attempt to beg for money, and at worst the ravings of a madman.