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What significant events happen to Elie Wiesel and the Jews of Sighet in Night?

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There is much to be described about the events that happen before the Jewish residents of Sighet are taken to concentration camps. Wiesel’s narrative begins with a description of life in the village of Sighet during the years 1941-1944 prior to the deportation of the Jewish portion of Sighet’s population. His observations help build a cultural backdrop for the reader to understand that a well-established Jewish community seems to have been thriving in Sighet before the arrival of Nazi influence.

The first event with a community-wide impact that Eliezer describes is in 1942 when only the foreign Jews among them are expelled from the town. This is significant because of the tragic fact that the remaining Jews do not see that it forebodes their own eventual doom. On page six of the novel, Eliezer tells us that people cried as their neighbors were being taken away in trains, but then quickly forgot and went back to their normal daily business. At this point the Nazis had not yet come to occupy the town, and people lived in a relatively carefree manner in spite of knowing that somewhere far away there was a war happening. Even in light of eye-witness testimony from Moishe the Beadle, who had been one of the deportees, the villagers of Sighet remain blissfully, fatefully unaware that they are personally in danger. In fact, as 1942 and 1943 go by, they feel like the war is going favorably and that better days are not too far off.

In the spring of 1944 an event finally happens that brings a bit of a wake-up call for them: the Germans at last arrive in Sighet. At first people are guardedly optimistic because the German soldiers billeted in their homes seem polite and even charming.

There are a series of significant events during the Passover span of time in 1944 that suddenly reveal to the Jews of Sighet that things are starting to go badly for them. First, the synagogues are closed. Then the Jewish leaders of Sighet are arrested by the Germans. Then a string of edicts are enacted to squeeze the community into subservience: a. Jews are forbidden to leave their homes for three days, b. Jews can no longer own any gold, jewelry, or other valuables, c. Jews must begin wearing the yellow star badges, d. Jews are banned from restaurants, train travel, synagogues, and being outside on the streets after 6:00.

The next event after the edicts is that ghettos are created and the Jews are forced to live in them. Within the ghettos there is much confusion about what will happen next. There is a rumor that they will be transported to other areas since they are allegedly too close to the war front while living in Sighet.

The last event is the gradual deportation of every Jewish person from the ghettos of Sighet. These are done in waves as each group of Jews is taken from Sighet at separate times. Eliezer and his family are in the last group to be removed, so they witness the anguish of others who are taken before them and worry about their own fate. We learn that the Sighet Jews are being transported to concentration camps, but they do not seem to realize where they are being taken until they actually arrive in one. We do not see most of the other villagers anymore after Eliezer and his father enter Auschwitz; only occasionally do they run into fellow prisoners in the camps who they used to know as neighbors back home.

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Many significant events happen to author Elie Wiesel and the other Jews of Sighet in Night. First of all, WWII is going on around them, and though they feel reasonably safe in Sighet, they soon find out they are not. Elie's teacher, Moshe and the other foreign Jews are expelled first, and when Moshe makes his way back to his village, nobody will believe what he tells them about what is happening to the Jews. Soon after that, the Germans show up in their town, and at first, life goes on as usual, but in a fairly short time, the Jews are moved to the ghetto. From there, they are transported to Auschwitz, where Elie and his father are separated from Elie's mother and sisters. Elie later learns that his mother and sister were sent to the gas chambers. The Jews of Sighet who survive selection at Auschwitz are then sent to other concentration camps for forced labor. Many die along the way, Elie's father included. 

"I awoke on January 29 at dawn. In my father's place lay another invalid. They must have taken him away before dawn and carried him to the crematory. He may still have been breathing" (Wiesel 106).

Finally, those who were still alive, including Elie Wiesel, were liberated at Buchenwald by the American soldiers on April 11, 1945.

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