by Elie Wiesel
Night Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Comrades, you are now in the concentration camp Auschwitz. Ahead of you lies a long road paved with suffering. Don’t loose hope. You have already eluded the worst danger: the selection. Therefore, muster your strength and keep your faith. We shall all see the day of liberation. Have faith in life, a thousand times faith. By driving out despair, you will move away from death. Hell does not last forever … And now, here is a prayer, or rather a piece of advice: let there be camaraderie among you. We are all brothers and share the same fate. The same smoke hovers over all our heads. Help each other. That is the only way to survive. And now, enough said, you are tired. Listen: you are in Block 17; I am responsible for keeping order here. Anyone with a complaint may come to see me. That is all. Go to sleep. Two people to a bunk. Good night." (3.136)
Either the Pole in charge of Eliezer’s block has deceived himself into believing all of them will "see the day of liberation," or he is purposefully trying to deceive the men in an attempt to give them hope and sustain them.
"You don’t know me? … You don’t recognize me. I’m your relative, Stein. Already forgotten? Stein. Stein from Antwerp. Reizel’s husband. Your wife was Reizel’s aunt … She often wrote to us… and such letters!"
[…] I recognized him right away. I had known Reizel, his wife, before she had left for Belgium.
He told us that he had been deported in 1942. He said, "I heard people say that a transport had arrived from your region and I came to look for you. I thought you might have some news of Reizel and my two small boys who stayed in Antwerp …"
I knew nothing about them … Since 1940, my mother had not received a single letter from them. But I lied:
"Yes, my mother did hear from them. Reizel is fine. So are the children …"
He was weeping with joy. He would have liked to stay longer, to learn more details, to soak up the good news, but an SS was heading in our direction and he had to go, telling us that he would come back the next day. (3.152-157)
Even though it’s a lie, Eliezer can’t help but try to provide his relative with some hope, even false hope – he sees deception as a better alternative to crushing Stein.
The only thing that keeps me alive," he [Stein] kept saying, "is to know that Reizel and the little ones are still alive. Were it not for them, I would give up."
One evening he came to see us, his face radiant.
"A transport just arrived from Antwerp. I shall go to see them tomorrow. Surely they will have news …"
We never saw him again. He had been given the news. The real news. (3.169-173)
Stein was kept alive by the lie that his wife and children were OK. But once he realizes the deception, and the truth of his family’s situation, he feels he has no reason to keep on living.