Dehumanization in 'Night': A Critical Essay


Further explanations and examples in a recently published article in the Microscopy & Microanalysis journal: pdf | bib


The Initial Dehumanization: Stripping of Identity

One of the first steps taken by the Nazis to dehumanize the Jewish population was to strip them of their identity. In 'Night', Wiesel describes how he and his fellow Jews were forced to wear yellow stars on their clothing, marking them as targets for discrimination. This act not only aimed to isolate and marginalize the Jewish community but also reduced their status to mere objects without individuality.

The Holocaust: From Humans to Numbers

As the Holocaust intensified, the dehumanization process escalated. Jews were no longer seen as individuals but rather as numbers. Upon arrival at concentration camps, they were stripped of their names and given identification numbers. This deliberate attempt to remove personal identities further dehumanized the victims and reduced them to mere statistics.

The Brutality of Labor and Suffering

The Nazi regime subjected Jews to hard labor, often in inhumane conditions, which resulted in physical and mental suffering. Wiesel recalls the arduous tasks he was forced to endure, highlighting the degrading treatment and cruelty inflicted upon him and his fellow prisoners. The physical toll of this labor not only broke their bodies but also stripped away their dignity, rendering them as mere shells of their former selves.


The memoir 'Night' powerfully illustrates the dehumanization inflicted upon the Jewish population during the Holocaust. Through his personal experiences, Elie Wiesel sheds light on the various forms of dehumanization, from the initial stripping of identity to the transformation of individuals into numbered objects. The brutal labor and suffering faced by the victims further intensified their dehumanization. Wiesel's memoir serves as a chilling reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust and the importance of preserving the dignity and humanity of all individuals.


What is the main theme of 'Night'?

The main theme of 'Night' is the dehumanization of individuals during the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel explores how the Nazi regime systematically reduced Jews to mere objects and stripped away their humanity.

How does Wiesel illustrate dehumanization in 'Night'?

Wiesel vividly describes the various forms of dehumanization he witnessed and experienced, such as the stripping of identity through the use of yellow stars, the transformation of individuals into numbered objects, and the brutality of labor and suffering in concentration camps.

What is the significance of dehumanization in 'Night'?

The significance of dehumanization in 'Night' lies in its portrayal of the extreme lengths to which the Nazi regime went to strip Jews of their humanity. It serves as a powerful reminder of the consequences of dehumanization and the importance of upholding human dignity.