Additional Resources for Students Reading Elie Wiesel's Night and

Additional Resources for Students
Reading Elie Wiesel’s Night and Studying
the Holocaust1
An Evening with Elie Wiesel
Cintas Center, Xavier University
Sunday, May 6, 2012
7 pm – Public Program
Made possible by the generosity of the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati
Use the following websites to help you and your students to
find more information about each subtopic:
1 This packet was created by The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education. We are especially grateful to
Ms. Rosie Alway, an 8 grade educator at Summit County Day school in Cincinnati, OH, who shared her resources
with us.
The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, (513) 487-3055,,
[email protected]
How to Use this Guide:
This guide was created in order to provide additional resources for further investigation
into Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night. Each section is highlighted with different themes which
can be discussed in your classroom. Following each section outline, there is also a list
of various comprehension and discussion questions. Please note the page numbers
may differ, depending on the edition being used in your classroom.
Section 1
Key concepts, ideas and topics for discussion:
• Elie Wiesel’s strength of faith
• Jewish life before the war
• Jewish faith
• Collaboration of the Hungarian police
• Denial
• Dehumanization begins
• Move to the ghetto
Comprehension Questions, section 1:
1. What is a memoir? How is it different from a novel?
2. Who is Moshe the Beadle? Explain why you think he would be an important figure to
Elie Wiesel.
3. List the names of Elie Wiesel’s family members.
4. Describe the relationship between Elie Wiesel and his father.
5. What happened to Moshe the Beadle? How do the people of Sighet react to his
6. Describe the role played by the Hungarian police.
7. Who is Martha? Why did the Wiesel family not go with her?
Discussion Questions, section 1:
1. “I wanted to come back to Sighet to tell you the story of my death. So that you could
prepare yourselves while there was still time…I wanted to come back, and to warn
you…no one will listen to me…” (5).
Why did the people of Sighet not believe Moshe the Beadle’s story?
The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, (513) 487-3055,,
[email protected]
2. “I was twelve. I believed profoundly. During the day I studied the Talmud, and at night
I ran to the synagogue to weep over the destruction of the Temple” (1).
Why do you think this passage is significant?
What can this passage tell us about Elie Wiesel’s faith?
3. “’Faster! Faster! Get on with you, lazy swine!’ yelled the Hungarian police” (17).
Describe how this language can be dehumanizing.
What effect do you think it would have on its targets?
Section 2
Key concepts, ideas and topics for discussion:
• Deportation – effect of dehumanization becomes apparent
• Treatment of Madam Schächter
Comprehension Questions, Section 2:
1. Describe what Madame Schächter sees in her vision.
2. Describe the reaction of the other people in the train car to Madame Schächter.
Explain why you think they reacted this way.
Discussion Questions, Section 2:
1. “The world was a cattle wagon hermetically sealed” (22). “They struck her several
times on the head – blows that might have killed her” (24).
What does hermetically mean? Why do you think Wiesel uses this word?
How do both of these excerpts highlight the impact of dehumanization?
Section 3
Key concepts, ideas and topics for discussion:
• Separation of the family
• Selection and processing into the camp; and Dr. Mengele
• History of Auschwitz and Birkenau
Comprehension Questions, Section 3:
1. Who is Dr. Mengele? What is his role when Elie Wiesel arrived with his family?
The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, (513) 487-3055,,
[email protected]
2. What are the dehumanizing steps that the prisoners endure as they are processed
into the camp?
3. What does Elie do when the gypsy struck his father? What is his father’s response?
4. How long are Elie and his father interned at Auschwitz? Where are they sent after
5. How do you think that the dehumanization of those targeted by the Nazis led to the
collaboration of ordinary men and women?
Discussion Questions, Section 3:
1. “The cherished objects we had brought with us thus far were left behind in the train,
and with them, at last, our illusions” (27).
Explain the significance of these words. What were their illusions?
2. “No, not fifty. Forty. Do you understand? eighteen and forty” (28).
How does the prisoner help Elie and his father? What does this reveal about
3. Re-read the infamous “Never shall I forget that night…” passage. Discuss.
Why do you think Elie Wiesel gave his memoir the title Night?
What title would you have given it and why?
Section 4
Key concepts, ideas and topics for discussion:
• Labor
• Extermination
• Music in the camps
• Spiritual and Armed Resistance
• Bombing of Buna
• Palestine
Comprehension Questions, Section 4:
1. Why is Juliek, the violinist, not allowed to play Beethoven?
2. Describe Elie’s experience with the dentist.
3. Who is Elie’s French angel? How does she help him?
The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, (513) 487-3055,,
[email protected]
4. What does Elie do when Idek hits his father? How does Elie feel towards his father?
5. Who was bombing Buna and why?
6. What happens to the prisoner who crawls out to the cauldron of soup during the air
Discussion Questions, Section 4:
1. “The band played a military march, always the same one. Dozens of units left for the
workyards, in step. The Kapos beat time: ‘Left, right, left, right’” (47).
Why do you think the Nazis would have an orchestra at the camp?
How do you think the prisoners who were also musicians felt about playing in
these orchestras?
2. “Thus we would often hum tunes evoking the calm waters of Jordan and the majestic
sanctity of Jerusalem. And we would often talk of Palestine” (48).
How is this an example of resistance? What does Palestine represent to the
3. Compare the two hangings. Why do the prisoners react to them differently?
4. When the Americans bombed Buna, they flew over the gas chambers of Auschwitz
and Birkenau without dropping a bomb. Many survivors are upset by this. Why?
Should the Americans have bombed Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as Buna?
Section 5
Key concepts, ideas and topics for discussion:
• Elie’s anger and loss of faith
• Choiceless choices
Comprehension Questions, Section 5:
1. What do the men do on the eve of Rosh Hashanah? How does Elie feel about this?
2. Does Elie fast on Yom Kippur? Why does he make that decision?
3. What is Elie’s “inheritance” from his father? Why is it given to him?
4. Why is Elie admitted into the hospital?
5. What decision does Elie and his father have to make?
6. What happens to the patients who stayed in the hospital instead of being evacuated?
The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, (513) 487-3055,,
[email protected]
Discussion Questions, Section 5:
1. “Should we fast? The question was hotly debated” (65).
Referring to our previous discussion on resistance, why do you think this topic
was “hotly debated”?
2. “What shall we do, father?” (78).
Holocaust survivor, Primo Levi referred to the Holocaust as falling into a “grey
zone,” and theorist Lawrence Langer refers to “choiceless choices.” Where have
we seen examples of the “grey zone” and “choiceless choices in our discussions
about Night and the Holocaust?
Sections 6, 7, 8, and 9
Key concepts, ideas and topics for discussion:
• Death March
• Loss of innocence
• Resistance
• Liberation
Comprehension Questions, Sections 6, 7, 8, and 9:
1. What is the name of the camp to which the men walked?
2. What is Juliek’s final act of resistance?
3. How long are they at Gleiwitz? Where do they go next?
4. How many men start out in the train? How many are left when they arrived at
5. What happens to Elie’s father?
6. Describe the events that occurred in Buchenwald on April 10, 1945?
Discussion Questions, Sections 6, 7, 8, and 9:
1. “I shall never forget Juliek. How could I forget that concert, given to an audience of
dying and dead men! To this day, whenever I hear Beethoven played my eyes close
and out of the dark rises the sad, pale face of my Polish friend, as he said farewell on
his violin to an audience of dying men” (90).
Is it significant that Juliek chose to play Beethoven just before he died?
The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, (513) 487-3055,,
[email protected]
3. “The old man again whispered something, let out a rattle, and died amid the general
indifference. His son searched him, took the bread, and began to devour it. He was not
able to get very far. Two men had seen and hurled themselves upon him. Others
joined in. When they withdrew, next to me were two corpses, side by side, the father
and the son. I was fifteen years old” (96).
Many survivors “came of age” during the Holocaust and in a concentration camp.
How does this excerpt highlight Elie’s loss of innocence?
The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, (513) 487-3055,,
[email protected]
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