“And yet real despair only seized us later. Afterwards.”

  1. Why do you think despair would not have “seized” them during the atrocities of the Holocaust?

Despair would not have seized them during the atrocities of the holocaust because they did not know what to expect, perhaps they would have been massacred along with the others, and only after surviving, did they started experiencing despair.


“As we emerged from the nightmare and began to search for meaning.”

  1. Why do you think human beings need to “search for meaning?” This makes us different from animals, of course, so what does it say about human beings? What are we searching for? Why is “meaning” associated with despair?

Human beings search for meaning in order to find a reason to live and this makes them different from animals which don’t reason. Meaning is associated with despair because it is in the event that when human beings give up or despair that they begin looking for meaning in life.

 “All those doctors of law, medicine or theology; all those lovers of art, and poetry, of Bach and Goethe, who coldly, deliberately ordered the massacres and participated in them.”

  1. What is theology? Why does Wiesel specify these three fields? Explain, in your own words, what this phrase means. (Extra research: Who was Bach? Who was Goethe? What is Wiesel implying by the references to Bach and Goethe in particular?

Theology is the study of religious faith, practice and experience. It relates between God and the world.

Wiesel specified these three fields because in one way or another they all promote the well-being of human beings. People who advance academically in these fields are for humanity and not against humanity.

It is strange how one of the best, most broadly educated nations in Europe, a nation of scholers,creative geniuses, religious reformers,scientists,humanists,poets and musical giants are who ordered massacres and took part in these killings, the Genocide.

Johann Sebastian BACH was a German composer and musician. Even better, he was a painter.

Johann Wolfgang von GOETHE was a German writer. Among his works his is epic and lyric poetry.

The fields of art, music and poetry that Bach and Goethe were towering giants and were supposed to be used to rebuke the inhuman acts. Instead, they neglected that and went ahead to take part in such a setting.

“What did their metamorphosis signify? Could anything explain their loss of ethical, cultural and religious memory?”

  1. What does metamorphosis mean? Why does Wiesel speak of their memories? Does it make it worse that someone who “knows better” ends up committing atrocities, than someone who never knew any different? Why is the former a worse situation? What is culture?

Metamorphosis is the changing of somebody or something into something completely different from that it was.

Wiesel speaks of their memories because it was their memories that would save the Jews from the genocide .It is the memories of the ethics, religious beliefs and culture to respect human life that would curb them from undertaking atrocities.

Yes. It makes it worse that someone who “knows better” ends up committing atrocities because, they are in a better position to stop them.

The former is a worse situation because one  who knows right and does what is wrong is labeled a sinner in the Bible.

Culture is the way of life of a community or a society.

“How could we ever understand the passivity of the onlookers and – yes – the silence of the Allies?”

  1. What does Wiesel mean by the “passivity of the onlookers?” (Extra research: In the beginning, what did the Allies think of Hitler? Are there historical examples you can find that reference the silence of the Allies?)

By the “passivity of the onlookers” Wiesel meant that the spectators did not make any attempts to stop the atrocities that were being committed.

During the Holocaust, the Allies were the Great Britain, the USSR and the U.S. in the beginning, the Allies seemed to think that the atrocities of the Holocaust would end with the defeat of Hitler and therefore they did nothing to stop him which led to more and more massacres of the Jews. (Yad Vashem 1)

“And question of questions: Where was God in all this? It seemed as impossible to conceive of Auschwitz with God as to conceive of Auschwitz without God”

  1. How does one reconcile God and evil? Record your own thoughts, but be sure you are fully connected to the full insight of the above phrasing.

It is difficult to reconcile God with evil, because God is the opposite of evil, though in the wake of the extensive, inhuman and ungodly massacres that were being committed one wondered what role God played because with God or without Him, things remained the same.

” Therefore, everything had to be reassessed because everything had changed. With one stroke, mankind’s achievements seemed to have been erased.”

  1. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why or why not? First, before you begin to explain your answer, rewrite this passage in your own words.

Everything that Jews (mankind) had worked so hard to achieve had been destroyed and therefore they had to re-think about their situation and devise ways of starting all over again.

I do agree with this statement because, it is apparent that during the Holocaust, the Jews were reduced to nothing. Families were separated, communities were dismantled and all that they worked so hard to achieve, for instance, educational status, did not matter anymore during the massacres.  Children and adults alike, all faced the same fate, death, whatever way they were murdered.

“Was Auschwitz a consequence or an aberration of “civilization”?

  1. Begin by defining aberration and civilization. Present a brief case either supporting or opposing Wiesel’s statement.

Aberration is deviation from what is normal usual, or expected, typically one that is unwelcome.

Civilization is an advanced stage of human social development where a high level of culture, science, industry and government has been reached.

The society often argues that to become civilized is to remove violence and becoming peaceful over time. Yet was witnessed during the Holocaust was far from this, it wa actually the exact opposite, the erosion of civilization. On the other hand, one cannot ignore the role that civilization played in fueling the mass massacre. The organized killing was carried out in an organized manner and this can only mean that rational bureaucracy was required to carry out the Holocaust.

Works Cited

Yad Vashem. The Holocaust. 2015. Web 14 May 2015. http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/holocaust/resource_center/item.asp?gate=2-56

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