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Elie Wiesel’s memoir chronicles the run-up to war

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At 1:12 a.m. on Nov. 9, 1945, it was decreed by the victorious general staff at Casablanca. The Soviet Union, which had unleashed the most devastating attack in military history, now had nuclear weapons. Officials reassembled at their meeting in the Red Room on the fourth floor of the Nuremberg train station and flashed their lights and a non-nuclear slogan. Then, at 1:11 a.m., the following proclamation appeared: “The Soviet Union,” written in capitals in the faces of all the key participants, “has purchased, preserved and enforced the conquest of Eastern Europe with nuclear weapons.”

These events make up part of this remarkably vivid memoir by the late Elie Wiesel and have been preserved in book form. Elie was 11 years old when the end of the Second World War came and with it the end of the Nazi dream of world domination.

After the obliteration of virtually all of Europe, and for some time in East Europe and on the southern Pacific, the Russians claimed their land and the Americans claimed that the Soviet Union had a third candidate for World War III. That “third candidate” was in fact Hungary, which on this date in 1945 became part of the Soviet Union.

In Wiesel’s haunting book, “Night,” he set out to imagine how he would feel if he had been a child at that time and how he would survive the Auschwitz experience.

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When he read “Night,” the memoir of Jakob Kramer, who shared the living space with Elie after the camps liberated, he said it felt like a magic trick that he would have to put together.

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