by Elie Wiesel
Night Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
From that moment on, everything happened very quickly. The race toward death had begun.
First edict: Jews were prohibited form leaving their residences for three days, under penalty of death.
The same day, the Hungarian police burst into every Jewish home in town: a Jew was henceforth forbidden to own gold, jewelry, or any valuables. Everything had to be handed over to the authorities, under penalty of death. […]
Three days later, a new decree: every Jew had to wear the yellow star. (1.66-72)
The Jews of Sighet lose their freedom in a gradual process; they become restricted to their houses, lose the right to own valuables, and wear identifying markers. Eventually, they are confined into ghettos.
But no sooner had we taken a few more steps than we saw the barbed wire of another camp. This one had an iron gate with the overhead inscription: ARBEIT MACHT FREI. Work makes you free.
German propaganda proclaims that subjection to forced labor is not confinement, but "liberty."
They quickly became my friends. Having once belonged to a Zionist youth organization, they knew countless Hebrew songs. And so we would sometimes hum melodies evoking the gentle waters of the Jordan River and the majestic sanctity of Jerusalem. We also spoke often about Palestine. Their parents, like mine, had not the courage to sell everything and emigrate while there was still time. We decided that if we were allowed to live until the Liberation, we would not stay another day in Europe. We would board the first ship to Haifa. (4.42)
In the concentration camp, Jerusalem and Palestine (with all of its religious connotations for people of the Jewish faith) symbolize freedom to Eliezer, whereas Europe, even after the coming liberation, symbolizes confinement.