In the summer of 1941, Hungarian authorities rounded up approximately 20,000 Jews who had not been able to acquire Hungarian citizenship, and deported them to German-occupied Poland.
The Germans massacred approximately 23,000 Jews from August 27-28, 1941 in the first large-scale massacre of the Final Solution. Moishe the Beadle was an archetype of one of these illegal aliens who was swept up in the deportation.
Moishe eventually escaped the deportation and made his way back to Sighet where life had returned to normal, and no one gave much thought to what might have happened to the illegals in the deportation. Despite Moishe’s warnings, no one in Sighet gave him any attention, and some dimissed him as insane. The Hungarian government quietly enacted antisemitic laws, and tens of thousands of Jews were drafted into forced labor battalions.
The Hungarian government cooperated with the Germans and in a period of 6 weeks, the Jewish communities in Hungary were concentrated in ghettos. At the end of 1944 Jews were deported from the ghettos to Auschwitz. In less than two months, nearly 440,000 Jews were went to Auschwitz, and most were gassed on arrival at Birkenau.
Moishe the Beadle was like a prophet, taking about the horrible things he saw in the first deportation, but the Jews of Sighet preferred to remain foolishly optimistic about their situation.
Elie Wiesel wrote Night as a report of what he, himself, suffered when he was deported to Auschwitz. With the number A-7713 tatooed on his arm, Wiesel survived the nightmarish experience.
The remains of Hitler’s concentration camps, the cold silence of the ovens that consumed millions of human beings, the piles of human hair, glasses, and shoes, and the photographs of emaciated survivors bear testimony to the truth of Wiesel’s tale in Night.
Yet there are those who conveniently say, “that didn’t happen, and it couldn’t happen to us.” As hate groups in the US continue to rise in number.