To be human is to have personality, unique characteristics, and freedom. The Nazis stripped Eliezer, his father, and other Jews of all these qualities. These people had families, owned businesses, and had values. Dehumanization is the process by which the Nazis turned Jews from people to piles of ashes. The Nazis physically, mentally, and spiritually reduced the Jews to nothing. Two of the things the Nazis did to dehumanize the Jews was cut their hair and take away their names.
The first example of dehumanization was when they cut their hair. When Elie first arrives at Auschwitz, he is sent to the barbers. “They took our hair with clippers, and shaved off all the hair on our bodies”(33). The Nazis cut their hair for many reasons. One reason was to humiliate them. The Nazis viewed Jews as an inferior race. They thought this justified the violation of their basic human rights. They would go to great lengths to humiliate and unjustly treat victims up to the very moment of their death. Another reason was to sell their hair to use as stuffing. Along with the cutting of their hair, Jew’s names were taken away. A name is a person’s identity. Eliezer and his father were given serial numbers in place of their names. The Nazis did this to turn a person into a number and not a unique individual. They would no longer have a personal identity but a cold statistic suitable for extermination. “The three “veterans,” with needles in their hands, engraved a number on our left arms. I became A-7713. After that I had no other name”(39).
In conclusion, Hitler and the Nazis dehumanized and inhumanely tortured the Jews. At the beginning of the Holocaust, Elie is an innocent child. After the Holocaust, he faith is broken and he has no family. Although Hilter’s “final solution” didn’t work out, he caused great destruction to the lives of countless Jews. Elie and the others who survived will never be the same after this horrific experience.
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