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March 28, 2016 | Author: | Posted in history, holocaust studies

In Elie Weisel ‘s Night , the author narrates his experience of the Holocaust . He is twelve years old , enjoying a quiet life with his loving family in a little town in Transylvania . He narrates how the Nazi rise to power tears his family apart and destroys the peacefulness of their life , to say the least . As he and his father are moved from one concentration camp to another at Buna , he finds himself losing not only his faith and compassion but also his humanity . He sees many people die , and experiences severe beatings [banner_entry_middle]

and desperate hunger from malnourishment . Elie ‘s story ends very sadly , in that when the few remaining live prisoners are finally set free , and he is regaining his health at a hospital , he discovers that his father has died from an illness

There are many such stories of equally frightening and horrifying experiences , marking one of the greatest tragedies in history . But there are other things that were borne out by the Holocaust . The whole experience , tragic and reprehensible though it may be , also left something good , something often hidden under the horror and the bloodshed

The horrors of the Holocaust may have occurred only when the Nazis gained their power , but its cause is rooted farther back in history The 18th century saw the beginnings of the Enlightenment . Intellectuals of that time thought of ways to create a new world free from superstitious beliefs – a world where reason and logic prevailed . The Philosophes , or the Enlightenment thinkers , had a vision of a Utopian world with equal civil rights and religious freedom (Florida Holocaust Museum [Florida] , 2003 . While the intention and motives of the thinkers at that time were noble and liberal , the Enlightenment is one of the key points in the history of anti-Semitism

Interestingly , one of the most prominent thinkers of that period was Voltaire , a French Enlightenment writer . While he and others at that time worked to bring about reason as the saving grace of civilization he said in the Dictionnaire Philosophique that the Jews were an ignorant and barbarous people , who have long united the most sordid avarice with the most detestable superstition and the most invincible hatred of every people by whom they are tolerated and enriched (Florida 2003 ‘ Voltaire was not fond of the Jews because they made a business out of lending money and were enriched by it . He found himself distrusting the Jews and thought that Judaism was incompatible with the principles of human reason and progress (Florida , 2003 ‘ His contemporaries held similar views , and critics today would hold that the great luminaries of their day fought against bigotry and discrimination only to stop short of applying the same principles where the Jews were concerned (Almog , 2005

In Germany , anti-Semitism was also evident in the 19th century . A prominent figure in German politics was Heinrich von Treitschke . He made violent and influential attacks on all opinions and all parties which appeared in any way to be injurious to the… [banner_entry_footer]


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