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Honestly, I do not like teaching this book. I do not like reading this book. However, it is important. History needs to be studied and honored. If we do not show our children that this has happened, it will not be real. The book is shocking and very, very difficult to read. It does need to be taught.
In addition to the other posts answer (which I agree with) one of the primary reasons I continue to teach this book is because on the whole, my students really enjoy it. Whenever I find a book that students actually like reading, it is something I hold on to. This is one story that students immediately take to, I think, because it is true. Also, it is short, but dense. The size of the book is not intimidating, and once they get into it, they cannot seem to put it down.
There was at least one important element that set the Holocaust apart from other acts of genocide in the past and present: how systematic the killing machine was. So in part, it is important for us to read this novel and study the Holocaust so that we can recognize the signs and precursors of governments that might do something equally horrible if allowed to.
Secondly, roughly 95% of the world's Jews live in either Israel or the United States, with more in the US, so it is a part of our population, our identity and thus is important to millions of Americans that we remember this tragedy well.
Night should be taught because 1)it is Elie Wiesel's first hand account. 2)This generation of students must not be allowed to go blindly into the future without understanding the importance of the past. 3)Atrocities like this must never be allowed to fall by the wayside. 4)Mankind owes it to the victims to keep this information prominent in order to, hopefully, ensure that it never happens again.
How else will we remember? The more removed we are from the event, the more the memory fades. We have generations of students who have skimmed over the Holocaust in their history classes, and that is not enough. Reading Night is a personal encounter rather than a generic study of a horrific event in history. When we feel something, we are not as likely to forget it; when we feel something so unsettling and disturbing, we are more likely to make sure it does not happen again. It has, of course, so we must continue to expose the truth to generations to come.
I can understand the reluctance of some to continue teaching this novel because of the graphic descriptions of the violence and fate of the Jews like Elie Wiesel who were sent to concentration camps. However, it is important to perhaps consider the author's own words in the introduction to this testament of his experiences:
For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.
Thus it is that the Holocaust is a historical event that belongs to all of humanity. To forget it is to forget a past that "belongs to our collective memory." To forget it would be the equivalent of murdering six million Jews all over again. This would be far more offensive than the graphic descriptions of death and murder that are in the novel.
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