THE POWER OF EVIL
When Elie started his enforced journey from Sighet to Kaschau in
Czechoslovakia, to Birkenau-Auschwitz in Poland, then to Buna, to Gleiwitz and finally to Buchenwald in German, it was a road to hell. It is also a similar road traveled by the German people when Adolf Hitler
came into power in the early 1930’s.
When the journey begins, the first step seems innocuous enough, but evil leads to evil, and once the journey has started it is like a
merry-go-round and very difficult to get off. It starts slowly and then speeds up until it goes so fast, it cannot be stopped.
We are perhaps all faced with similar journeys and at the start there are choices.
For the Jews in Sighet, they did receive warnings from Moshe the Beadle and
there was an alternative for Wiesel’s family in that they could have immigrated to Palestine.
For the German people, there was also an alternative to Adolf Hitler in the
early days, but evil has a knack of beguiling people and seducing them by giving individuals power that they would not normally experience.
Hitler seemed to promise everything for a people who had lost their identity and purpose after World War I, but they did not appreciate that this evil man had a hidden agenda. Using the tools of propaganda and fear, he was able to gain complete control over his subjects.
Initially we learn that the Jews thought that their role would be in
supporting the German war machine, but they were soon to discover that their ultimate fate would be death as Hitler pursued his warped policy of producing a master race. Once you commence this route, it
spirals into the depths, and all the unattractive human traits come to the fore. Hitler persuaded those around him that certain races were inferior to the Aryan race, and therefore had fewer rights. This
common view spread to the extent that those in his command felt justified in treating prisoners dreadfully and were able to use them for experiments, like guinea-pigs, giving them no worth.
Any who embark on this road to evil do not appreciate what the destination
is like, so those that came to liberate the camps were faced with a shocking scene that they could not have envisaged in their wildest dreams. The liberators were unprepared for the scenes that they faced
because they had not traveled down this road of evil; they had gone straight to its final desperate end.
There are some today who consider that the evil perpetrated by the Nazis has
been exaggerated. These people are in denial and it is this type of apathy that Wiesel is trying to remove from the world. Good people must be vigilant and oppose evil at every turn.