FOREWORD by Fran'ois Mauriac
The French writer Fran'ois Mauriac met with Elie Wiesel and helped him in
the publication of ‘Night’. Mauriac was a distinguished novelist and playwright and one of France’s leading Christian writers. He was aged seventy when he met Elie who was just twenty-seven.
The Foreword to this book gives an account of their meeting.
Mauriac found it difficult to come to terms with the Elie’s testimony concerning his experiences under the Nazi regime. Mauriac tells us that Elie has been chosen by God to bear witness to what was suffered by the Jews under Hitler’s evil purpose.
Mauriac finds it difficult to maintain the position that God is love against
the backdrop of Elie’s account of the Jewish suffering. It is hard to believe that mankind would repeat the mistakes during the 1914 – 18 War less than a quarter of a century later. One comes to the
conclusion that evil begets evil and Adolf Hitler’s rise to power was like the phoenix emerging from the ashes of World War I.
Those that split the spoils after the First World War laid the seeds of discontent in the German people, which nurtured the rise of evil once more.
Although militarily superior to his opposing forces, Hitler’s dream of
building a master race needed the resolution of the Jewish question. The evil that he had created in Germany eventually consumed it, for even at the last when the opposing forces threatened to overrun the
German army lines, Hitler’s death machine still operated at maximum efficiency.
Elie’s aim is to educate future generations concerning the dangers in
allowing evil to manifest itself. His book ‘Night’ and other similar accounts of the Holocaust together with works from other authors on the same subject should be available for future generations to read.
For example, Anne Frank’s ‘Diary of a Young Girl’ is similar to ‘Night’ in
that is an historical piece written totally from a Jewish point of view. Whilst Anne Frank’s journal provides us with an insight of a Jewish family’s struggle to remain hidden from the S.S., it also provides
us with an introduction to Elie’s work which deals with life in a Concentration Camp, the latter work being much more chilling than Anne’s diary.
Mauriac cleverly pairs these two eye-witness accounts and it is ironic that
in both it is only in the final death throws of the Third Reich that evil overtakes the main characters of both stories.