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As the book states, the Jews, and the people that Elie knew, still believed that the Red Army was rapidly approaching and that they were soon to be rescued and that the Red Army was going to prevent Hitler from harming them all. They thought that killing them all was going to be an impossible task. The thought of that didn't even run through their heads. Also, there were a lot of older people who thought that it would be difficult to start a new life in another place, as in the case of Elie's father, he thought that everything was about to be over and refused to give up his life in Sighet. Jews thought that the fascists were going to stay in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, but they were wrong and they soon had moved to Sighet.
As strange as it sounds they were some Nazis that could recognize a Jew by the way they were dressed or the way their hair was. It sounds strange but that is what hate turns you into, I think that is why they had to cut their hair and also because that's what they do in prison or when you get recruited into the army, they just wanted the Jews to feel miserable. They took their belongings to feel that they had power over them and just to make money out of them. Jews have precious possessions and when the Kapos take their things away from them, they feel even more miserable and they would suffer. I think they took away their clothing because they were in some sort of jail, right? So, I guess you don't wear normal clothing in jail, which is why they got uniforms. They tattooed a number on the Jews so they could easily find anyone, and to make them feel bad by not being called their name but a number, how horrible would that feel? The point of them doing all of this stuff is to make them feel less and to make them understand that they don't have control over anything.
Elie just stands there observing how his father is beaten by a Kapo. He is appalled because he did not immediately react and try to stop them for beating his father. He just thought that he was never going to forgive them for the beating his father had received. Elie started to lose his faith in humanity, he was starting to think that everyone was evil, and by not helping his father he was letting evil survive and stay inside of him. He also said that just the night before it happened he would have done something, but all he could fell was fear and guilt. He was shocked that he didn't help his father that he was becoming into a new person, a transformed person that couldn't stand up to his father.
"Women to the right and men to the left!" were those eight words that Elie was never able to forget because that was when he and his father were separated from his mother and his three sisters. But it was just the harsh way in which they said them that he didn't forget, without any pity. That was the last time Elie saw any of them, the way that Tzipora was holding on to his mom, the way they kept walking and that was the last time Elie and his father saw them. Elie and his father were all by their own, they were all they had, and they to protect on another. Elie's father was old so he had to do everything to keep him with him and not lose him like he lost his mother and his sisters. The thought of being alone scared him and made him fight even harder to survive with his father.
Idek, the Kapo at Buna, beat Elie because he crossed his path, he was covered in blood. Idek sent Elie back to work, he was in so much pain although he tried to hide it, when all of a sudden the French girl started wiping off his blood, she handed him a crust of bread and smiled at him. She told him to bite his lip and be brave, that the pain will eventually go away. Years later, Elie finds the French girl in the metro, in Paris, he immediately recognized her. He finally asked her if she was Jewish, and she said she was. She had falsified papers to be passed as an Aryan and she hid that she was Jewish by not talking, because she indeed spoke German. Elie remembered her because the girl trusted him with her secret and because she helped him when he got beaten. He was the only one that the French girl had talked in German to when they both were at Buna concentration camp.
At the Auschwitz camps, the newly arrived Jews were put to selection, in Elie's case it was by Dr. Mengele. They would ask the inmates a serious of questions and by the answer it would determine if they were fit to work or not. If they were fit to work they would be forced to hard work, and they would be fed a small portion of food. For those who were not in conditions to work were to be gassed and some had to go to the crematorium to be burned and therefore, killed. The head of the block gave the inmates great advice to pass the selection. They were told to undress, and before going to the room to stretch legs, arms and the rest of the body, and then to not walk to run, to run as fast as they could and not to look at the officers in the eyes but to keep running. And the most important thing to do was to not look or feel afraid. The advice helped Elie pass selection.
Dr. Josef Mengele was a cruel doctor that controlled the selections at Auschwitz concentration camp. He was known as the "Angel of Death," because he was known to conduct cruel experiments on the inmates of the concentrations camps. It was him who had the final decision of who should die and who should live. He was one of the cruelest doctors in the Holocaust, he experimented with mainly twins and experimenting with midgets fascinated him, the family he was experimenting with was the Ovitz family.
The Russian army was approaching the Buna camp giving the prisoners hope to be rescued but the Germans decided to evacuate the camp before the Russians arrive at Buna camp. At night, they started evacuating Buna, in the middle of a snowstorm and Elie had just gone through a foot operation. The Germans didn't want to let free their prisoners so they decided to escape by walking for about forty-two miles. Elie didn't want to leave his father go by himself so he decided to go with him. Later on, Elie discovered that the people who stood at the Buna camp were released.
Elie implies that he is alive only physically but his soul is dead, because of all of the things he witnessed. His childhood was dead, he had to grow up and realize that it wasn't a game, he had to fight for his life, he had to leave childhood behind and become a man, mature faster. He became two different people, the person who witnessed and went through the holocaust and the person who he is now. The corpse he sees is basically how everything he believed in has died: the faith in God, the faith in human kind, hope - everything was left behind at the camps. Elie survived and it was to keep the Holocaust in the minds of people, so that this tragedy would not happen again, and that no one would have to go through what he went through.