Elie Wiesel: “For God’s sake, where is God?”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of writer and concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel, born in a small village in Transylvania in 1928. He grew up in a Hasidic community and learned to love reading by studying the Pentateuch and other sacred texts. When he was 15, he and his family were taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp. His mother, sister, and father were all killed before World War II was over.

Wiesel survived the camp, but he couldn’t write about his experiences for 10 years. Finally, a mentor, François Mauriac, persuaded Wiesel to write about the war. He wrote a 900-page memoir, which he condensed into the 127-page book called Night (1955). It has become one of the most widely read books about the Holocaust. In 1986, Wiesel received the Nobel Prize in literature for his writing and teaching.

A passage from Night: “Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out, swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing. And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes. And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still red, his eyes not yet extinguished. Behind me, I heard the same man asking:

“For God’s sake, where is God?”

And from within me, I heard a voice answer:

“Where He is? This is where—hanging here from this gallows…”

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