Dehumanization In Night By Elie Wiesel

432 Words2 Pages

In "Night," Elie Wiesel describes the horrific dehumanization of himself, his father, and his fellow prisoners in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. The process of dehumanization occurred gradually, through a series of events and actions that stripped the prisoners of their humanity, dignity, and self-worth. One example of dehumanization is the way in which the Nazis referred to the Jews as "vermin" and "rats," reducing them to the level of animals. This is evident when Elie and his fellow prisoners arrive at Auschwitz and are met by a Nazi officer who says, "You are now in a concentration camp. In Auschwitz, nobody survives for long. You have no rights, no name, no family. You are a number in a uniform." (Wiesel 30) This dehumanizing language serves to …show more content…

This is seen when Elie and his father arrive at Birkenau and are forced to strip naked and have their heads shaved. Elie describes the scene, saying, "We had become accustomed to the stench, but this was something else: a strong, nauseating smell of burning flesh. It engulfed the camp like a tidal wave." (Wiesel 34) The act of shaving the prisoners' heads and stripping them of their clothing serves to further strip them of their dignity and humanity, reducing them to mere objects. A third example of dehumanization is the way in which the prisoners were forced to endure horrific physical and emotional abuse. This is evident in the way Elie describes the treatment he and his father received from the SS guards at the concentration camps. He writes, "The SS seemed more preoccupied, more worried, than usual. At times, they seemed to forget us. They would become lost in thought, and their faces showed a certain sadness that I had never seen before." (Wiesel 52) The emotional distance exhibited by the guards serves to further dehumanize the prisoners and to make them feel isolated and

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