No, I’ve never read this account of Mr. Wiesel’s experiences during the final days of World War II as he is enslaved in first Birkenau, then Auschwitz, then Buna, and finally Buchenwald, not until this week. It’s not a long book, only a little over a hundred pages, but it’s about the most powerful indictment of the evil that lies deep inside every man that I’ve ever read. If you don’t believe in “original sin,” Night will change your mind. It’s a very, very dark story, and the fact that it’s true and told in a quite factual manner makes it even more disturbing. The Nazi persecution and near-extermination of the Jews happened; it’s depressing, but unavoidable. And as Mr. Wiesel shows in his book, even those who were enslaved and murdered were not able to remain pure; he tells over and over again of how son turned against father, how friends fought each other for a scrap of bread, and of how he found himself doing and thinking things that would have been unthinkable before his captivity.
So why is this “Resurrection Reading”? Well, despite the “night” that pervades this book and despite the death that is its constant theme, the book points me, as a Christian, to resurrection. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” By extension, only the dead need a resurrection, and only he who is aquainted with both the depravity of man and the evil that is within his own being is aware of his need of a saviour.
As the book ends, Mr. Wiesel has been liberated from Buchenwald, but he looks into the mirror and sees a corpse. Only a resurrection can help this particular patient.
Night is definitely appropriate and powerful reading for a Holy Saturday of darkness.