Saturday, April 23, 2011


Elie Wiesel, from 'Night':

The SS seemed more preoccupied, more worried, than usual.  To hang a child in front of thousands of onlookers was not a small matter...

The three condemned prisoners together stepped onto the chairs.  In unison, the nooses were placed around their necks.

"Long live liberty!" shouted the two men.

But the boy was silent.

"Where is merciful God, where is He?" someone behind me was asking.

At the signal, the three chairs were tipped over.

Total silence in the camp.  On the horizon, the sun was setting.

"Caps off!" screamed the Lageralteste.  His voice quivered.  As for the rest of us, we were weeping.

"Cover your heads!"

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 is He?  This is where - hanging here from this gallows..."

Francois Mauriac, from his preface to 'Night':

And I, who believe that God is love, what answer was there to give my young interlocutor whose dark eyes still held the reflection of the angelic sadness that had appeared one day on the face of a hanged child?  What did I say to him?  Did I speak to him of that other Jew, this crucified brother who perhaps resembled him and whose cross conquered the world?  Did I explain to him that what had been a stumbling block for his faith had become a cornerstone for mine?  And that the connection between the cross and human suffering remains, in my view, the key to the unfathomable mystery in which the faith of his childhood was lost?  And yet, Zion has risen up again out of the crematoria and the slaughterhouses.  The Jewish nation has been resurrected from among its thousands of dead.  It is they who have given it new life.  We do not know the worth of one single drop of blood, one single tear.  All is grace.  If the Almighty is the Almighty, the last word for each of us belongs to Him.  That is what I should have said to the Jewish child.  But all I could do was embrace him and weep.

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