Comparing the Human Rights Violations in “Night” and the Cambodian Genocide

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To Adolf Hitler, the Jews were the biggest problem in the way of his perfect society. He had to take them out, and the only way to do that was by death. Adolf Hitler and their collaborators were responsible for the deaths of over six million people and made even daily life harder for those who survived. In Night by Elie Wiesel, Elie Wiesel goes more in-depth with the horrors that happen inside the concentration camps as well as the deportation. There are topics ranging from starvation to being tortured inside the book about his survival throughout these tough times. Human rights violations were very big during these times as well as in other genocides like Cambodia. In Cambodia, approximately two million had died before Vietnam invaded to stop the attacks on innocent people. The deaths ranged from execution, starvation, disease, and exhaustion, which officially made the Cambodian genocide the most devastating in human history. In Night and Cambodia, the war prisoners experienced human rights violations in the form of wrongful possession taking, torture, and starvation.

Possessions were wrongfully stolen from Cambodian prisoners as well as Jewish prisoners. The Khmer Rouge expected everything from stealing from Cambodians, as did the Nazis with the Jews. The only problem was that their actions weren't worth the consequences they would suffer. "Banding together in big gangs, they kill people and steal money, gold jewelry, and guns." The possessions were taken with no regard for the Cambodian prisoners, and many never got those possessions back. This was what happened to many as they tried to rebuild what they once had. This was much harder for those in Night by Elie Wiesel due to the value of their possessions. In Night, possessions were taken of more value, like gold and silver. "It did not take long to discover why we had been summoned: It was for the extraction of our gold.
Teeth. Their gold crowns and objects of value were stripped from them so profit could be made. Their possessions were never returned as most died or wanted to make a fresh start in life.

The Cambodian war prisoners suffered many different forms of starvation, just like the Jewish war prisoners in Night. Both Cambodians and the Jews had to eat what was available to survive as well as steal it. In Cambodia, they often stole food to eat, which brought on accusations. "But we saw people die from starvation, so we 'stole' rice whenever we could. They were often punished if they stole, which resulted in death most of the time. They ate whatever they could, whether it was animals or plants. They had to ration and do what they could, just like the Jewish prisoners in Night. In Night, they did what they could to survive despite being starved. That went from trading what they had to just steal it. They risked getting caught just to feed themselves. That could have resulted in death or harsh punishment." He reached the first cauldron. Hearts raced: he had succeeded". It was mentally and physically tiring to keep going every day as they became weaker. It is truly incredible how they kept going despite the daily obstacles they faced.

The torture endured by both Cambodian and Jewish prisoners was similar. There was no mercy for the Cambodians as they were puppets to the Khmer Rouge, just like the Jewish prisoners were to the Nazis. The forms of punishment, if they stole, were very harsh. The Cambodians were left to die slow and painful deaths from the torture. Cambodian war prisoners were shown no mercy in torture if they were caught stealing " The Khmer Rouge caught one old woman taking rice for her family. The guards tied her to a mound covered with big red ants. The ants crawled all over her face". This often resulted in death. Anything that was available would be used to harm them in any way, just like the Jewish prisoners in Night. In Night, it was similar to Cambodia in the fact that they were tortured, just not as much. "He took his time between each stroke. Only the first one really hurt me". They were whipped and subjected to harsh torture. Even labor was torture in the eyes of the Jews.

Both genocides devastated and ruined the lives of many people. Plenty of people in both genocides were beaten, forced to do hard labor, and deported. However, the main comparisons between the two are the torture, possession, stealing, and starvation of both genocides. This was hard for both the Jews and Cambodians because they had to rebuild what they used. A toll had been taken on them mentally and physically. Most rose from the ruins and tried to do what they could to make themselves better. The numbers remind the Jews of what they've been through, and the memories still reside with the Cambodians.

Works Cited

  1. Keat, Nawuth. Alive in the Killing Fields: Surviving the Khmer Rouge Genocide Washington: National Geographic, 2009.
  2. Wiesel, Elie. Night. Bantam ed., New York, Bantam Books, 1982.
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Comparing the Human Rights Violations in "Night" and the Cambodian Genocide. (2023, Mar 09). Retrieved April 22, 2024 , from
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