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Pierre de Ronsard

Chapter Four

Eliezer was told that Buna was a “better” camp. Eliezer and his father were assigned to labor in a warehouse of electrical materials, where they had to count and sort bolts, bulbs, and other various small electrical parts into groups.

Conditions were better here; the commandos were somewhat nicer, and they were given a blanket, washbowl, and bar of soap. Nonetheless, there were still commandos such as Idek, the Kapo, who arbitrarily beat people and beat Eliezer and his father, too. Eliezer was beaten for witnessing the kapo copulate with a young girl.

Eliezer, too, was often approached by pseudo-dentists for the gold crown in his teeth, and he allowed one to extract it for some extra ration of food.

There were other monstrosities. Once during an all clear signal, a man was shot while he was crawling toward a cauldron of soup; another day, a young boy from Warsaw was publicly hung, with the entire camp forced to file past the boy and stare “at his extinguished eyes, the tongue hanging from his gaping mouth” (63).

Another time, another child was hung and, here again, there was Eliezer’s refrain:

“For God’s sake where is God?” and the famous answer:

“Where He is? This is where—hanging here from this gallows . . .” (65)

Chapter 5

On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, approximately ten thousand worshipers pray in the barracks, and Wiesel is unable to join them, feeling angry at God and considering this new God to be powerless and vindictive. He found himself unable to believe in religion or God. On Yom Kippur, too, he refused to fast for the same reason: God, for him, no longer existed.

The same day, there was a selection of the strong and the weak, with the weak and the elderly being sent to the crematorium. Eliezer and his father were saved, although Eliezer’s father was singled out for a repeat selection. Unexpectedly, he managed to pass this one, too.

A series of ups and down befall Eliezer: His friend disappears (likely to the crematoria); Eliezer forgets to say Kaddish for him. Eliezer’s leg is almost amputated, and he is informed about the dangers of the infirmary (patients are removed and cremated alive). There are rumors of the imminent approach of the Red Army.

One day, the Blockalteste (manager of the block/barrack) informed their bunk that all but the sick would be evacuated. Despite Eliezer’s right foot still not having healed and despite the fact that his wound had reopened, Eliezer resolved to join his father on the march to an unknown destination.

At six o’clock that evening, the prisoners ranked outside. The gates of the camp opened, and the prisoners began their march to an unknown destination. In his pocket Eliezer had only two pieces of bread. It was snowing.

Chapter 6

The march was horrendous. The prisoners were whipped to move faster, and more and more prisoners dropped behind or fell down and were trampled on by the others. One of these was a young boy from Poland called Zalmen, who could no longer keep up.

Eliezer moved on with excruciating difficulty, the thought of his father being the factor that propelled him to continue.

Twenty kilometers after they had left Bruno, they reached an abandoned village where they were allowed to sink into the snow and rest. Eliezer’s father persuades Eliezer to rest in a decrepit brick factory, and there they dissuade each other from falling asleep so that neither will freeze to death. Indeed, many others had done just that or were lying crushed outside, dying from having been trampled by others.

Eliezer had seen at least one son abandon his father in the hope for survival and the need to get ahead. He prays that he will never succumb to the same temptation.

Again they marched, with escorting SS officers on motorcycles prodding them onward. They arrived at Gleiwitz, their new camp, where, in the dead of night and among the heap of bodies, a boy from Warsaw plays his violin until he dies.

They stayed in Gleiwitz for three days without food or water, and Eliezer manages to save his father from being selected to the left during a selection before they are again expelled and shoved into a convoy of cars.

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