Many outsiders strive but fail to truly comprehend the haunting incident of World War II's Holocaust. None but survivors and witnesses succeed to sense and live the timeless pain of the event which repossesses the core of human psyche. Elie Wiesel and Corrie Ten Boom are two of these survivors who, through their personal accounts, allow the reader to glimpse empathy within the soul and the heart. Elie Wiesel (1928- ), a journalist and Professor of Humanities at Boston University, is an author of 21 books. The first of his collection, entitled Night, is a terrifying account of Wiesel's boyhood experience as a WWII Jewish prisoner of Hitler's dominant and secretive Nazi party. At age 16 he was taken from his home in Sighet, Romania and became one of millions of Jews sent to German concentration camps. At the Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Wiesel witnessed the death of his parents and sister. In 1945, the latter of the camps was overtaken by an American resistance group and the remaining prisoners freed, including the drastically changed man in Wiesel. The once innocent, God-fearing teenager had become a lonely, scarred, doubting individual. Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983), a religious author and inspirational evangelist, traveled and spread Christianity throughout sixty-one countries, even into her eighties. Her autobiography, The Hiding Place, is an account of her inner strength found through God in the midst of the physical and emotional turmoil of German concentration camps. During World War II, the Ten Boom family took action against the Nazi movement and began an underground hiding system, saving over 700 Jewish lives. (Contemporary Authors, 470) They were discovered and sent from their Haarlem, Holland home to Scheveningen, a Nazi prison. Ten Boom, in her 50's, was placed on trial for leading the underground system and sent to a German work camp. There she witnessed her father and sister's death as well as the birth of her inner strength and hope for the future. Upon release from Ravensbruck, Ten Boom began caring for victims of the war and Holocaust and used her powerful speaking ability to share the trials and triumphs of her life. Together, these two powerful authors relive the horror and pain of the Holocaust to educate the unaware world. They teach of the past, warn of the future, and live for the day. Wiesel and Ten Boom voice their strong belief in God before the war and the ebb and flow of that belief in response to each newly faced affliction. These strong survivors pose as teachers and role models by revealing strengths, weaknesses and survival techniques. Wiesel and Ten Boom survive against the odds, but not without physical and emotional scars. The unsung hero and heroin pair experience tremendous suffering, but confront that affliction with distinct contrary responses. The theme and style of Wiesel and Ten Boom reveal individual personal beliefs and strength levels in reaction to their concentration camp experience during WWII's Holocaust. Theme is the window which Wiesel and Ten Boom open through words and thoughts to reveal the true purpose of their tales. Although both authors experience the grime of concentration camp and grief of family loss, their responses to this suffering are distinct. This distinctness is not unexpected, for as one's strengths and beliefs are personal, as is the effect of events effecting those strengths and beliefs. Wiesel and Ten Boom state the purpose of their self-exposed stories clearly, and their purposes differ just as clearly. Wiesel stresses the importance of applying lessons of the past to the present for the sake of the world's future. He writes to create a feeling of such horror and catharsis within the reader to prevent the evil of the Holocaust or any type of unjust persecution to ever occur again. He opens the reader's eyes with vividly horrible images of human suffering and creates no barrier in which to contain the honesty and corruption of the experience as a whole....
Cited: Alter, Robert. "Elie Wiesel: Between Hangman and Victim" (E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1962); excerpted and reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 3, ed. Carolyn Riley (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1975), p. 526. Alvarez, A. "The Literature of the Holocaust" (Random House, 1968); excerpted and reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 3, ed. Carolyn Riley (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1975), p. 527. Appendix II. Popular World Fiction. Vol. 3. Washington, D.C.: Beacham Publishing, 1987. II-35. "Christians Who Helped Us To Get Started" (Praise Outreach). May. 1996. http://www.wolsi.com/~kitb/influ.html. (5 Dec. 1996). Contemporary Authors. Vol. 111, ed. Hal May. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1984. p. 470. Douglas, Robert E., Jr. "Elie Wiesel 's Relationship with God." 3 Aug. 1995. http://www.stsci.edu/~rdouglas/publications/suff/suff.html. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Vol. 3, ed. Israel Gutman. New York: Macmillan, 1990. p. 1281. Sidel, Scott. "All Rivers Run to the Sea: A Review of the Memoirs of Elie Wiesel." 1995. http://www.netrail.net/~sidel/reviews/wiesel.html. (5 Dec. 1996). Ten Boom, Corrie. The Hiding Place. United States: Bantam Books, 1971. Wiesel, Elie. Night. United States: Bantam Books, 1960.
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