Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chapter 3 (pages 29-46) -- Auschwitz-Birkenau

Reflect on Wiesel's description of his and his family's arrival at Auschwitz with the pictures you saw.


  1. When Wiesel and his family arrived at Auschwitz, they felt as if they could die at any moment. SS men stood every few yards aiming their machine guns at them. They commanded each gender to separate, men on the left and women on the right. Wiesel did not have any time to think about the situation. He followed the instructions in fear, holding his father’s hand along the way. He failed to realize it at the time, but this instance was the last meeting with the women in his family, his mother and sisters. Tzipora and his mother grew farther in the distance as they made their departure from Wiesel and his father forever. Everything happened so quickly and suddenly. If he were to travel back in time, he would have wanted the opportunity to say goodbye. The image of their unexpected departure must constantly replay in his mind even today.

  2. Terror filled the hearts of all the Jews as they entered Auschwitz. One of the first things they saw was the fire, which Mrs. Schaechter had been screaming about in her hysteria. No one could have foreseen such a brutal death in which innocent beings are purposely burned to death. He also describes the stench in the air, the smell of human flesh burning. Everyone obeyed orders to avoid being dealt with by the SS officers. The Jews were helpless now; they knew at this point that they were going to die either in the flames or by some other form of cruelty. Just like Nancy said, the females were separated from the males, never to be seen again. Families were torn apart before they could even say goodbye. Had I been there, I would have felt trapped, just like the Jews felt. It was as though they had walked into their own graveyard and would have no choice but to dig their own graves. To them, it was the end of the world as they knew it, and to Wiesel, the end of his innocence and youth.

  3. The sense of curiosity that all of the Jews felt before arriving at Auschwitz were now answered. The fire that the insane lady was constantly imploring was finally visible for all to witness. The stench of burning flesh was utterly overwhelming. Families were immediately separated and not allowed to see their loved ones again. The weak were killed and strong were tortured and worked to death. Weisel is told to lie about his age in order to not be taken to the crematoria. He is shocked at the site of millions of his fellow Jews treated so harsh and piled in trenches. Weisel and his father were forced to shave their bodies and tattoed for identification purposes. All of their human rights were violated. The only thing the Jews had to live for was their faith. Weisel had entered a new realm of atrocity.