I just read two Holocaust memoirs.
The first, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. Followers of Jesus, she and her family participated in the Dutch resistance during World War II and hid Jews in their home. She and her sister were arrested and sent to Ravensbruck. Corrie was eventually sent home, but her sister died there.
The second, Night by Elie Wiesel. He and his family, Hungarian Jews, were deported toward the end of WWII and sent to Auschwitz and Birkeanau. Elie’s father, mother, and baby sister all died.
Both horrific accounts of the depravity to which humankind can descend. Sickening, gut-turning depravity.
I don’t make a practice of reading these kinds of books because I empathize in reading so much more than I do while watching movies, or even in real life…is that weird? But I’ve wanted to read both for a long time, since they’re both so acclaimed and their authors beloved.
I cried at the end of both books. But…they were very different tears.
When I finished The Hiding Place, I outright wept. I wept at the beauty of God’s love and the hope in Christ that sustained Corrie and her sister Betsie in the concentration camp. All the little ways he provided in kindness. The tender and miraculous ways he began redeeming the tragedy after Corrie’s release – even during her imprisonment, as she and Betsie were able to minister to their fellow inmates.
When I finished Night, though, I felt weightily depressed.
Ten Boom’s story is about finding God’s love in the midst of horror. Wiesel’s is the opposite – it is about the loss of faith, loss of humanity, loss of identity.
Night is hopeless. There is no redemption in it. No light. Just darkness. Darkness that, I’m sure, Wiesel felt the rest of his life – his life that he called the night that started the day of his deportation.
We need both stories.