Eliezer’s loss of faith in God begins at Auschwitz. When he first sees the furnace pits in which the Nazis are burning babies, he experiences the beginnings of doubt: “Why should I bless His name?” Eliezer asks, “What had I to thank Him for?” Though not complete at that moment, Eliezer’s loss of faith contrasts with the continued faith of such devout prisoners as Akiba Drumer, whose faith in divine redemption raises the prisoners’ spirits.
We also see, as Eliezer begins to doubt his own humanity, the beginning of his loss of faith in man. When the Kapo beats his father, Eliezer wonders at the transformation that he himself has undergone. Only the day before, he tells himself, he would have attacked the Kapo; now, however, he remains guiltily silent. Fear of silence figures prominently in this memoir, as it is silence in the face of evil, Wiesel believes, that allows evil to survive.
This section contains perhaps the most famous, and the most moving, paragraphs in all of Night. Only rarely does Eliezer interrupt his continuous narrative stream to reminisce about the ways that the Holocaust continued to affect his life after it ended. Here, however, Eliezer looks back on his first night in Birkenau and describes not only what he felt at the time but also the lasting impact of that night:
Never shall I forget that night . . . which has turned my life into one long night. . . .
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God. . . . Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
The repetition of the phrase “Never shall I forget” illustrates how Eliezer’s experiences are forever burned into his mind; like the actual experiences, the memories of them are inescapable. The phrase seems also like a personal mantra for Wiesel, who understands the crucial necessity of remembering the horrible events of the Holocaust and bringing them to light so that nothing like them can ever happen again.