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Vanessa  Cuthbert

Elie Wiesel: Redemption, Indifference, and the Jewish Tradition of Faith
Hungarian Jews Living in the Holocaust

ďRedemption begins when indifference ends.Ē This quotation, which was said by Elie Wiesel during a lecture on Redemption and Evil, is the focus of many of his works. While most of his novels are set during the Holocaust and depict survival in extermination camps, their main teaching is about the Jewish tradition of faith, and the ways in which it is carried out. While many of Wieselís novels are recognized for their relation to historical events, his primary message is that the tradition of Jewish faith will help people to overcome obstacles. This tradition includes the Jewish belief that God will redeem them, especially after the suffering that they have endured. The characters in Wieselís works had such faith that they could persevere throughout the hardships that they encounter.

Elie Wiesel was one among more than one million European Jews who were forced to live under Nazi rule. Of these oppressed European Jews, many were Hungarian. By March 19, 1944, Germany invaded Hungary. Within a year, the Nazi party had deported most of the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz, the most well-known and notorious of the European extermination camps. German hostility toward Hungary had not always been present, however, due to the fact that the two countries had been in an alliance during World War I and at the beginning of World War II. After the post-World War I Treaty of Trianon, which ordered Hungary to relinquish their land to Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, Hungary was eager to regain the once-vast empire that had since crumbled. It was for this reason that Germany and Hungary had formed an alliance during the beginning of World War II. However, after the Hungarian government teamed with Hitler to acquire this land through force, belief in the primacy of the Aryan race compelled the German Chancellor to free Europe of Jewish blood. This triggered the mass murder of over six million European Jews, including Elie Wieselís father, mother, and siblings.

Major Works Consulted:

Bachrach, Susan D. Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust. Boston: Little Brown, 1994.
Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe during the Second World War. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1985.
Wiesel, Elie. The Judges. New York: Schocken, 2002.
---. Night. New York: Schocken, 1960.
Photo credit: Wiesel, Elie. Memoirs: All Rivers Run to the Sea. New York: Schocken, 1995.


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