I have given a new title to Carolyn Yeager’s newest blog post about the changes made in the latest version of Elie Wiesel’s book Night. I first read Night many years ago when I knew next to nothing about the Holocaust. I read it in the public library, all in one sitting. I recall that I was appalled by Elie’s attitude of indifferance when his father died. It never occurred to me that this book was not a true account of survival in Buchenwald and Auschwitz. It certainly never occurred to me at that time to check the dates in the book against the known facts.
This quote is from the article on the blog Elie Wiesel Cons the World:
When I ended Part One, Eliezer and Father were still in the train car on their way to Buchenwald. You will recall that the Yiddish, the French and thus the original English version of Night specified the trip took 10 days and 10 nights from Gleiwitz (on the former German/Polish border) to Buchenwald. Since we know from standard historical sources (Danuta Czech, in her Auschwitz Chronicle) that the prisoners were evacuated from Monowitz on Jan. 18 and arrived in Gleiwitz the next day, Jan. 19; and since according to the description in Night itself, they spend three days in Gleiwitz (Jan. 20-22), this would make their day of arrival February 1, 1945. But in Night, Father’s death takes place the night of Jan. 28-29, three days before they arrived! This is why Marion Wiesel removed the number 10 in her new translation, leaving the number of days and nights undetermined.
Ms. Yeager’s objective is to prove that Elie Wiesel lied in his famous best-selling book, which is assigned reading for every child in America. The detail that she uncovered in the above quote proves that Elie lied.
One might argue that the prisoners didn’t have calendars in the camps, so a mistake in dates is not important. However, Ms. Yeager has uncovered another detail in the dates in the original Yiddish version, that is much more important, as quoted below from her article:
A strange detail that actually belongs in Part One is on page 87 of the original Night. Eliezer remarks, after his and his Father’s deliberations and final decision to go on the march: “I learned after the war the fate of those who had stayed behind in the hospital. They were quite simply liberated by the Russians two days after the evacuation.” The evacuation, as we all know, was on the 18th. We also know the Russians did not arrive on the 20th of January! The actual liberation day is January 27. What possessed Wiesel to write this? Well, because it was in Un di velt (the original version): “Two days after we had left Buna, the Red Army occupied the camp. All the sick had stayed alive.”
I have always suspected that the Soviet soldiers arrived before January 27th, the official date of the liberation of Auschwitz. The official story is that the Germans left Auschwitz on January 18th, then came back twice (on January 20th and January 26th) to blow up the gas chambers in order to destroy the evidence. To me that seems to be very un-German. I don’t think the Germans neglected to blow up the evidence of the Holocaust, and then came back to the camp twice while Soviet soldiers were in the area.
According to the testimony of Robert Jan van Pelt in the David Irving libel case, the Germans neglected to fill in the holes that were used for pouring in the gas before they left, so they came back to fill in the holes and then blow up the gas chambers. If you know anything about the character of the German people, you know that the Germans always plan, plan, plan. They leave nothing to chance. Certainly, the SS men would not have left the destruction of evidence to the last minute and then run off before it was done, thus making it necessary to come back twice.
Why are the dates of the liberation of the camp important? The original Yiddish book, on which Night is based, mentions that the Soviets arrived on January 20th, the day that two of the gas chambers were blown up. I think that this date is correct and that it was the Soviets who blew up the evidence so that they could then claim at the Nuremberg IMT that 4 million people had been killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Soviets also confiscated the death records and the train records. With no records and no evidence to the contrary, no one could dispute the Soviet testimony at the Nuremberg IMT that 4 million people had been killed in this one extermination camp alone.
According to the Auschwitz Museum, after the fall of Communism in 1989, the Soviet Union turned over to the International Committee of the Red Cross 46 volumes of Death Books (Sterbebücher) which they had confiscated from the Auschwitz camp. (It was at the request of the famous Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel that the records were released.) These records, which had been kept by the political department (Gestapo) at Auschwitz, show that there were around 69,000 registered prisoners who died between July 29, 1941 and December 31, 1943. The Death books from June 14, 1940 to July 28, 1941 are missing, as are the death books from all of 1944 and January 1945. Based on these records, the International Red Cross has estimated that a total of around 135,000 registered prisoners died in the three Auschwitz camps. These figures are for Jews and non-Jews. (Don’t repeat any of this in Germany, where it is against the law to quote the Red Cross records or to say that the Soviets arrived on January 20, 1945.)