CONTEXT for the BOOK
Night takes place in Europe (Romania, Poland, and Germany) during World War II (1939-1945). This war, sparked by German aggression, had its roots in the ending of an earlier war. With Germanyís defeat in World War I, the nation was left with a broken government, a severely limited military, shattered industry and transportation, and an economy sinking under the strain of war debts. Many Germans were humiliated and demoralized. The Nazi partyóin German NAZI stands for National Socialist German Workers Partyócame to power in the late 1920s. The party, through its leader Adolf Hitler, offered to restore German pride. At large rallies Hitler spoke of Germanyís long military tradition, its national character, and its entitlement to greatness. To explain Germanyís fallen state, Hitler blamed the Jews and others whom he said were not true Germans. Many Germans responded enthusiastically to Hitlerís ideas, and in 1933 he became chancellor, or leader, of the country.
Once in power, Hitler was able to restore Germanyís economy and its military. He used that progress to support his expansion efforts, unchecked by Allied countries struggling with the worldwide Great Depression. In 1938 Hitler began invading the lands around Germany. Britain and France declared war in 1939. The United States did not enter the war until 1941.
In 1941, when Night begins, Hitler seemed unstoppable.By 1942 he controlled or was allied with most of Europe, including Wieselís Romania, which was pro-German. As the story progresses, Wiesel is confined in a total of three concentration camps, Auschwitz and Buna, in Poland, and later Buchenwald, in central Germany.