Joseph Bernt

Joseph Bernt

And now for a few announcements.

Ballots for this year’s election of library officers and new board members were mailed to library members who have paid their membership dues for 2021-2022.

If the ballot has not arrived, members of the library should contact the library office via email at info@cannonbeachlibrary.org or calling 503-436-1391.

Only those ballots that reach the library office by Friday, May 7, will be counted. Anyone who has not renewed their library membership may still do so and return a ballot by the deadline, but don’t tarry.

Due to increased demand, the Cannon Beach Library has expanded the hours open for limited browsing. Limited browsing now is available on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Noon to 4 p.m.

Patrons may still place orders and holds any time during the week by logging into their account online, emailing the office or calling the library.

Patrons may pick up orders on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays between noon and 4 p.m.

Les Sinclair will lead members of Cannon Beach Reads in a Zoom discussion of “Night,” Elie Wiesel’s account of the deportation, execution and forced labor of 14,000 Jews from his village of Sighet in eastern Hungary to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration complex in southern Poland during May of 1944.

The Zoom discussion begins at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 21, at 7 p.m. Regular members of Cannon Beach Reads will receive information about joining this on-line discussion the day before it begins. Those who have never participated in Cannon Beach Reads discussions but are interested in joining this discussion of “Night” should email their names and email addresses to Joseph Bernt at berntj@ohio.edu to receive Zoom access information.

“Night” is an important work of twentieth-century literature that made its author a powerful voice for the dignity of human life in opposition to the brutal totalitarianism and militarism that dominated the planet in the 20th century and developed a good head of steam as we approach the second quarter of the 21st century.

Having arrived as a studious child, 15 years old, at the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex by rail in one of many cattle cars, each stuffed with 80 dehumanized Jews from Sighet, Wiesel clung to his father. They, however, were separated from Sarah, his mother, and his sisters—Tzipora, the youngest, and Hilda, the oldest, and Bea, the middle daughter—as camp staff separated women and men.

Excluding those living in Budapest, from 430,000 to 440,000 Hungarian Jews were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, a concentration point serving two purposes—to exterminate all but 20 percent of the internees through immediate execution or through physical exhaustion from overwork, disease and hunger, or to supply labor for Nazi war production at Auschwitz or factories distributed within Germany and conquered territories in eastern Europe.

In 1959, Israel established Yom Ha-Shoah as “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day.” This year, Yom Ha-Shoah began at sunset April 7 and concluded at sunset April 8. The United Nations established January 27, the day Soviet troops entered Auschwitz in 1945, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I’m now writing on April 11, the final evening of the official week-long U.S. Days of Remembrance, about Wiesel’s description of traveling to and surviving in Auschwitz and Buchenwald from May of 1944 until the Jewish underground rose up and U.S. troops entered Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, ten weeks after Soviet troops stumbled into Auschwitz.

When Cannon Beach Reads established its schedule for the year, this April connection between Yom Ha-Shoah and our assigned reading for this month had not occurred to CB Reads members.

On January 6, insurrectionists wore clothing embracing “Camp Auschwitz” as they trashed the nation’s capital, threatened to put a bullet in the head of the Speaker of the House and hang the Vice President and actually beat and killed members of the Capital Police.

Only three months have passed since the January assault on the “People’s House,” so discussing Wiesel’s gripping masterpiece still feels appropriate during the month of remembrances. Wiesel wrote “Night” specifically so horrors of the Holocaust would never fade from human memory. January 6 demonstrated that the memory has been fading for a sizeable portion of our nation.

Wiesel had good reason to worry that people would feign disbelief, would deny “the final solution” occurred. The human desire to forget the painful, the brutal, the inhumane became a recurring theme in “Night.”

In the first sentence of “Night” Wiesel introduces his readers to Moishe the Beadle:

“They called him Moishe the Beadle, as if his entire life he had never had a surname. He was the jack-of-all-trades in a Hasidic house of prayer, a ‘shtibl.’ The Jews of Sighet—the little town in Transylvania where I spent my childhood—were fond of him. He was poor and lived in utter penury. As a rule, our townspeople, while they did help the needy, did not particularly like them. Moishe the Beadle was the exception. He stayed out of people’s way. His presence bothered no one. He had mastered the art of rendering himself insignificant, invisible.”

“Night” begins before direct Nazi involvement in Hungary. In 1941, Hungarian police loaded 20,000 Jews without Hungarian citizenship into cattle cars. Moishe the Beadle was not a citizen of Hungary.

“They cried silently,” Wiesel writes. “Standing on the station platform, we too were crying. The train disappeared over the horizon: all that was left was thick, dirty smoke.”

That smoke foreshadowed more to come from the oft-mentioned crematorium that blocks the sky over Auschwitz throughout “Night.”

The deportees were forgotten. There were rumors they were content and working in Galicia. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. “Life was normal again,” Wiesel drips with bitter irony.

Moishe can no longer remain silent after he was wounded but escaped from a Gestapo massacre when the train of non-citizens were transferred onto trucks waiting in Poland, taken to the woods to dig their own mass graves and systematically executed.

Moishe returned to Sighet to tell everyone, anyone, who would listen to his account of the massacre. The Jews with Hungarian citizenship did not believe Moishe the Beadle’s account. Moishe had become an intrusive irritant. They refused to listen.

The remainder of “Night” demonstrates the importance of listening and believing.

On Wednesday, May 19, Joseph Bernt will lead members of Cannon Beach Reads in a Zoom discussion of  “The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America” by Ernest Freeberg.

The library collection continued to expand, in March, adding 21 new titles, eight recent popular novels, eight new mysteries and five nonfictional books.

The eight new novels added to the library collection in March are “Who Is Maude Dixon?” by Alexandra Andrews, “Infinite Country” by Patricia Engel, “Better Luck Next Time” by Julia Claiborne Johnson, “How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House” by Cherie Jones, “My Year Abroad” by Chang-Rae Lee, “The Committed” by Viet Thanh Nguyen, “The Rose Code” by Kate Quinn and “We Begin at the End” by Chris Whitaker.

Eight new mysteries were added in March, including “Dark Sky” by C.J. Box, “The Cook of the Halcyon” by Andrea Camilleri, “The Postscript Murders” by Elly Griffiths, “Slough House” by Mick Herron, “Transient Desires” by Donna Leon, “A Matter of Life and Death” by Phillip Margolin, “The Lost Apothecary” by Sarah Penner and “The Consequences of Fear” by Jacqueline Winspear.

Five nonfiction titles have also been added. These include “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of the Human Race” by Walter Isaacson, “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy” by Adam Jentleson, “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019” by Ibram Kendi and “This is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyber-Weapons Arms Race” by Nicole Perlroth.

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