Friday, 18 January 2013

Historical Perspectives on the Individual - Part 1: Elie Wiesel's Night

Dear All,

Another perspective - or lens - we can use to look at the individual is history. Of course, history, too, provides not one single view but a myriad of times, places, and perspectives.

A particularly sad chapter in history has been looked at more often than many others - probably because it is a chapter whose cruelty is beyond comprehension for most "normal" individuals. The chapter of history I am talking about is the Holocaust.

Elie Wiesel, one of the most famous Holocaust survivors, too, has tried to shed more light on this particularly dark chapter of human history.

Please read Elie Wiesel's Night and think about the following questions:

1) How does the historical experience of the author get transformed in(to) the book?
2) How does the experience of the holocaust change the understanding of the concept of "self" of the protagonist?
3) What can we, as individuals, learn from Night?

Topics for for further discussion:

1) The Individual and the State
2) Politics and Personal Responsibility
3) The Self and the Other
4) Despair and Hope
5) [Add Your Own Topic Suggestion]

You can find some background information about Night - including some links to excellent interviews with Elie Wiesel - in the post of November 7th, 2012:

Thank you!



  1. I am going to be doing my research project related to this book; I am trying to prblematise the issue of why we study this era of concentration camps or holocausts and very little of any others. This was not the first or the last or the biggest event in history like this but it seems that it was the only one that is still talked about in contemporary times. Any ideas?

  2. I was pitied Jews because they did not do anything wrong why they were tortured and killed. I don't know why German people that believe Hitler. Maybe Hitler is good speaker, or good acting. I do not why Hitler does not feel bad when he thinks and plans to kill people. I can learn some history from this book. I receive about sadness, anxiety, but they hope to survive.

    1. You are very right: I don't understand either how anybody could do things like that - and get away with it! We just have to make sure that nothing like that is ever going to happen again. That's why Elie Wiesel wrote the book: to make sure that history does NOT get repeated....