In the novel, “Night,” the Nazis used the process of dehumanisation, to reduce the Jews to little more than “things” which were a nuisance to them. By enforcing a loss of rights and taking away personal identity, the reduction process began. The inhumane suffering of the Jews, due to the Nazis, caused vitiation of humanity and dissolution of previously strong faith. As a result, death became such a common sight for all, with animalistic behaviour being rampant among the decimated Jews. It was this process of dehumanisation that condensed the Jews into little more than “things.
The first step by which the Nazi’s depraved Elie and his Jewish inmates was simply by taking away their rights. This was not done blatantly at first, but with the subtlety and stratagem of a sly fox, seizing its innocent prey. However, “on the seventh day of Passover the curtain rose. The Germans arrested the leaders of the Jewish community. ” It was at this point that “the race toward death had begun. ” The Jews were strictly unable to leave their houses for three days, “on pain of death,” a definite sign of what was to come.
The Jews were soon denied the rights to keep any objects of value, go into restaurants and cafes, travel on the railway, attend a synagogue, go into the street after six o’clock and had to wear a yellow star, all, “on pain of death. ” Through the institution of the ghettos, one can compare the Jews to caged animals at a zoo, utterly helpless, and wholly dependent on an element that will end in certain death. In their secluded society, the Jews were completely unaware of the plummet of their humanity and what was about to come upon them.
One major possession the Jews wanted to hold onto, and which the Nazis deprived them of was their social status and identity. Elie states that, “There were no longer any questions of wealth, of social distinction, and importance, only people all condemned to the same fate. ” The Nazis had been successful, equality reigned. No one was more or less important than any other. They were all considered as parasites. Elie and all his concentration camp inmates were even divested of their name.
From that day onward, “I became A-7713. I had no other name. ” What have you got left if you haven’t got a name? Not even identification to an old friend, or family member. They were, “mere numbers, the only men on Earth,” as far as they were concerned. Elie refers to himself as, “Two entities, my body and me. ” Elie’s body, identity and all that he was, had been removed Elie and indeed, all Jews felt the loss of their identity and social distinction, through the process of dehumanisation very deeply.
Death is an inevitable fact for the old and decrepit, but the Nazis used the process of dehumanisation to bring all Jews into the reality of it, regardless of age. Elie was physically tried by testing and often horrific circumstances, and to him at times, death seemed inevitable. This should not be for a boy of fifteen years old, but death was brought close to him by the Nazis. To him and other surviving Jews, death was an everyday occurrence. “Under our feet were men crushed, trampled underfoot, dying. No one paid any attention. Even when death presented itself in the form of crematory ovens, Elie remained indifferent to it.
“Right next to us the high chimney rose up. It no longer made any impression on us. It scarcely attracted our attention. ” Originally Elie, “was bathed in cold sweat” at the sight of the crematories. To Elie, death no longer held any dominion over him and seemed, not as a fate but as an asylum. “The idea of dying, of no longer being, began to fascinate me. Not to exist any longer. ” Death no longer required any emotion. Sons abandoned their father’s remains without a tear. ” Elie had to adapt to the grim reality of death which hung about him every day, as a clear result of how the Jews were dehumanised by the Nazis.
Loss of faith was very prevalentwith Jews at the time of the Holocaust, even Elie, due to the inhumane conditions and experiences they are put through by the Nazis. Elie first felt himself revolt towards God when he discovers the Nazis absolute evil, a lorry delivering its load of babies into a fiery pit. A dark flame had entered my soul and devoured it. ” From this point on, Elie couldn’t believe in the God he had previously taken refuge in. “I did not deny God’s existence, but I doubted, his absolute justice. ” Elie could not harbour the idea of believing in someone whom he thought, “chose us from among the races to be tortured day and night, to see our fathers, our mothers, our brothers, end in the crematory. ”
The passage of time, full of a relentless barrage of shocking events explains Elie’s hange form naivety of God, to cynicism. Was Elie to blame? If Elie lived a normal life he would have never suffered this great loss. The Nazis had brought, “the death of God in the soul of a child who suddenly discovers absolute evil. ” Elie was driven away from his God by the inhumane circumstances he was placed in by the Nazis. Elie found that there was no way he could retain his faith, due to the dehumanising process of the Nazis which, placed them face to face with unspeakable horrors.
It is clear that the Nazis used the process of dehumanisation, to reduce Elie and other Jews, to little more than “things” which were a nuisance to them. This process proved highly successful for the Nazis, with the first step in taking their rights. Taking away personal identity, making all Jews mere “things”, the reduction process began. Death became such a common sight for all the decimated Jews, due to the Nazis, caused a clear dissolution of a previously strong faith. It was this process of dehumanisation that condensed the Jews into little more than “things. ”