What is the significance of the officer taking such an interest in the younger children?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This particular detail is one of the most gruesome details of the narrative.  Certainly, the terror of the Nazis knows no boundaries.  Yet, the discussion of the trafficking of children is something Wiesel brings out in this instant of the narrative with stunningly direct detail.  

Wiesel describes the German tent leader with details that reflect why the officer coveted and took such an interest with children.  The Nazi officer is described as one with "an assassin's face, fleshy lips, hands resembling a wolf's paws."   This helps to illuminate the animalistic and savage way that children were coveted.  Using food as a technique to groom the children in order to gain their confidence, the Nazi officer is described as having "liked children."  In a parenthetical note, Wiesel suggests that such affection "was not entirely altruistic."  The "veritable traffic of children" was referred to as a reason why children were shown so much affection.  Such detail brings out the horror intrinsic to the Holocaust.  The significance of the officer taking such an interest in the younger children for his own sexual gratification only underscores such a reality.


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