The Holocaust that Nazi Germany instigated was without a doubt one of the most horrific events to have taken place in this world. Millions of individuals were separated from their communities, killed, tortured, and forced to endure the grueling shifts of work in the myriad amount of concentration camps that Adolf Hitler erected during his rule over Germany. However, there were those who were able to survive through these hellish conditions and live to tell their tales.
One such individual is Elie Wiesel who, along with his father Shlomo, worked in one of the most famous concentration camps; Auschwitz. Elie and his father were able to survive in the camps for so long because of the father-son bond that they were able to forge and temper through the many hardships that they faced at Auschwitz. Another tale of the Holocaust is that of Guido and his son Joshua in the movie Life is Beautiful. Many of the same themes are prevalent in this film as in Wiesel’s life.
Both families were shipped to concentration camps after being forcefully evicted from their homes, and both groups are able to maintain their sanity by maintaining their father-son relationship. Though it would have been easier if Guido and Elie Wiesel were to abandon their family in exchange for a better chance of survival, both of them were able to retain their humane thinking and the love that they held for their families, and thus managing through the tough times that they faced.
In Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night, the father-son bond is crucial because Shlomo kept on reminding Elie of his feelings of love, compassion, and devotion to his family. In the living hell that he was a resident of, there was an abundance of miserable people, some who lied, some who scavenged for any means of survival, and some who betrayed their loved ones. One such case is brought upon when Elie witnesses Rabbi Eliahou’s son deserting the Rabbi to increase his chances of survival on their trek to another concentration camp.
When Elie witnessed this event, he promised to himself, even praying in a god that he did not trust in as much as before the camps, that he would never do such a thing to his father. This was because of the fact that Elie and his father were the reason that they stayed alive, so that they could be able to motivate and help each other. Another example of when Elie and Shlomo exhibited their father-son bond was when hundreds of Jews were shipped into cattle carts to Gleiwitz. His father fell unconscious during the trek, and the S. S. officers ordered the Jews to throw the dead bodies out. Elie was able to plead with the officers long enough until his father returned to consciousness, showing his devotion to his family even going as far as giving some of his rations to his father so that he could recover faster. Throughout his memoir, Elie Wiesel showed how the father-son bond that he had with Shlomo was able to overcome any obstacles that were thrown in their way, because they wished not to survive through the camp, but survive together.
In the movie Life is Beautiful, Guido and his son are taken to a similar camp that the Wiesels were sent to however; Guido’s family was able to keep one thing that Shlomo’s family was unable to, Guido’s wife and Joshua’s mother Dora. It was believed that Elie Wiesel’s mother and younger sister were immediately sent to a crematorium; however Dora was fortunate enough to be able to work in the camp for the remainder of World War II. When S. S. oldiers took Guido and Joshua away, Guido was able to convince Joshua that the concentration camp was all but a game of who reaches 1000 points first. Guido was able to convince Joshua to hide in the barracks, stating that this would help him and his father earn more points, while Guido went off to work in the labor factories. Because of this, Guido was not only able to tone down the situation enough so that Joshua would be able survive easier, he was able to keep Joshua happy by making jokes out of every possible situation, thus eliminating any fear or doubt that Joshua held within him.
Guido especially felt the need to keep Joshua safe after he learned that all of the other kids in their camp were killed off when they “took a shower”. Because of the fact that Guido had to keep Joshua under cover, Guido had to skimp out on meals so that Joshua was able to be well fed and maintain a healthy body. Guido’s act of keeping Joshua safe not only put a risk on Joshua’s life, but his as well. However, because of Guido’s selfless acts of keeping his son safe and happy, Joshua was able to survive the camp, even inning the tank that Guido jokingly stated as the first place prize. Guido’s wife Dora’s constant hope is what ultimately reunites her with Joshua. She willingly entered the concentration camp, in fear that she would be the only one in the family that would survive and would never be able to see them again. She held high hopes of being able to reunite with her family, but the longer she stayed at the camp, the more her hopes diminished.
She began realizing that Guido and Joshua may not be able to make it out alive. However, one day during work she was sent to organize the recently slaughtered children’s clothes, and upon searching the pile she was unable to find Joshua’s clothes. The fact that Joshua’s clothes were not located in the mountain of clothes helped reassure her that her family would be able to be reunited again, and at the end her efforts paid off.
The Holocaust was without a doubt one of the worst crimes that mankind has committed to this day, but some of the prisoners were able to find motivation to survive through their families. In the memoir Night and the movie Life is Beautiful, the hope of surviving and being reunited with family played a huge role in their survival. Also, the love the characters showed each other made life worth living. The presence of good morals, a little faith helped the people in both stories survive through the tragedy.