Ethics, Religion and Memory in Elie Wiesel s Night

Sandu Frunza


In this paper I show that, from a philosophical perspective, in Elie Wiesel s work in general and in Night in particular, the relation between ethics and religion is based on complementarity. In order to achieve this, I have analysed the way in which memory is shown as an invitation to participation in a common set of meanings, values and actions. What I deem most significant is the way in which the memory of the Holocaust is constituted as a medium of action and of communion among humans in an act of mutual responsibility. Through this, the memory of the Holocaust obliges us to assume an ethics of responsibility and of action that rules out the possibility of a contemporary repetition of the events that took place in the death camps. I use Night to show how this narrative reveals several points that are important for understanding certain aspects of the relation between ethics, religion and the memory of the Holocaust. One of these is the understanding of memory as a way to bring man and God together in a relation of mutual communication, beginning with the experience of suffering of dehumanization and of God s absence from the death camp. Another is that the religious and cultural memory represented by Israel is the main target of extermination as a manifestation of radical evil. A third is that Israel s suffering has a paradigmatic value, and therefore the memory of the Holocaust becomes a special power that may be used as a tool to diminish the power of evil through the elimination of indifference and the assumption of responsibility.


ethics, memory, Holocaust, responsibility, evil, death camp, Night, Elie Wiesel

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