Where are examples of dehumanization in Night?

An example of dehumanization in Night is the police invasion of Sighet, when police raided the Jews' homes, set strict curfews, and forced all Jews to wear yellow stars. The dehumanization of the Jews continued as they were shuttled to ghettos and eventually to concentration camps. In the camps, Wiesel describes public beatings and hangings that contributed to a pervading sense of inhumanity. Ultimately, Night is filled with countless examples of dehumanization, as the Holocaust itself was an exercise in the mass dehumanization and extermination of millions of people.

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When the police come to gather the Jewish people in Elie's neighborhood, their actions reflect the way they fail to see these people as humans:

The Hungarian police used their rifle butts, their clubs to indiscriminately strike old men and women, children and cripples.

The police lash out at the neighborhood's weakest members, hitting them as if they are little more than livestock needing to be herded into a corral.

When Elie arrives at the concentration camp, he witnesses a horror beyond comprehension:

Not far from us, flames, huge flames, were rising from a ditch. Something was being burned there. A truck drew close and unloaded its hold: small children. Babies! Yes, I did see this, with my own eyes … children thrown into the flames.

Elie cannot even believe that this scene is real and pinches himself; the dehumanization of the Jews imprisoned in this camp is incomprehensible. The soldiers callously toss infants into flames, unmoved by their own acts of torture or the innocence of the young children they murder.

After some time, Elie witnesses the execution of a child who had a "delicate and beautiful face," which was exceedingly rare in the camp. The child had been convicted of a crime and had received a death sentence. Because of his size, however, his hanging was especially brutal. He didn't weigh enough, and it took an especially long time for his weight to suffocate him:

And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range.

Not only have the soldiers convicted an imprisoned child and sentenced him to die for his "crimes," but they are unmoved by this child's suffering, ordering the other prisoners to walk by and look at him closely as an example of their own power. This inability to be moved, particularly by the agonizing death of a beautiful child, reflects the way the soldiers have dehumanized all of the prisoners, even young children.

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Dehumanization is a theme that is consistently present throughout Night. The Nazis enacted countless horrors upon the people they imprisoned and executed in the concentration camps and ghettos during the Holocaust. Examples of the dehumanization in the actions of the Nazis throughout the book include the systematic forced relocation of Jews from their homes into ghettos and concentration camps, the extermination of people via mostly gas chambers and mass shootings, the beatings and torture of prisoners, the tattooing of numbers onto concentration camp prisoners, the separating of families and loved ones, the enslavement of the people in the camps, and the starvation and neglect of prisoners.

Additional examples of dehumanization in Night include the treatment of Jewish people prior to the mass executions such as the creations of ghettos, forced identification, and political and social discrimination. Once the Holocaust was in full force, examples of dehumanization include the several instances of Elie's father being beaten by guards, the executions of Elie's mother and sister via the gas chambers, the loss of empathy Elie begins to feel for his father due to the torturous conditions he is forced to live in, the tattooing of A-7713 onto Elie's skin, the hanging of a child who may have been part of the Resistance, and the selection processes that determined who would live and who would be murdered.

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One of Wiesel's strengths in Night is to show the full face of dehumanization. It is something that the Nazis perpetrated against the people they imprisoned. The tattooing of numbers on the prisoners, something that Eleizer notes, is of extreme importance.  A- 7713 is by definition an example of dehumanization because it robs the humanity of the individual.  The abuses that the Nazis perpetrate on their prisoners is another example of dehumanization. The public beatings, the hanging of prisoners and making others walk past them, as well as the selection process are all examples of dehumanization. When Eliezer has to run at full speed to avoid being noticed during one of the selection processes, it is a reminder as to how large a role dehumanization played in the Holocaust.  Even in actions that the Nazis took towards Jewish people prior to extermination, dehumanization is evident.  The forced wearing of the Yellow Star and the movement into the ghettos are all examples of dehumanization that the Nazis perpetrated.

I would also suggest that Wiesel shows the true horror of dehumanization to impact the relationships between Jewish people.  Wiesel makes the claim that the terror of the Holocaust existed in how everyone dehumanized one another. Moshe the Beadle is dehumanized by the people of Sighet. When he comes back to tell them what he experienced, he is dehumanized in the way he is discredited and shunned.  Moshe the Beadle represents dehumanization in the treatment he receives.  This process continues in the train when the men on the train beat up Madame Schächter.  When she exclaims that she sees fire, she is not validated or heard.  Rather, she is told to "shut up" and then forcibly beaten into silence.  Once again, dehumanization is evident in how victims of evil treat one another.  Throughout the camps, examples of children abandoning parents, people betraying one another, and internal aloneness dominating human actions until survival is all that remains are examples of dehumanization in the narrative.  These examples show that the Holocaust happened because individuals dehumanized one another.  In seeing human beings as less than human beings, individuals were able to treat one another with a lack of dignity and voice.  Wiesel's work reminds us that anytime voice is silenced, dehumanization is the result.  This becomes its own end that must be stopped at all costs.

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