ELIE WIESEL'S BIOGRAPHY - CH 2

Auschwitz

Contributed by Bianca Shah, Clinton Mutuku, Ophelie König and Alvin Pallangyo.

The beloved objects that Elie's family had carried with them, from place to place, were now left behind in the wagon. An SS man came forward wielding a club "Men to the Left! Women to the Right!. Eight words, spoken quietly, indifferently, without emotion thought Elie. In a split second, Elie could see his mother and his sister move to the right. Tzipora, Elie's youngest sister, gripped tightly onto her mother's hand, clearly looking quite distressed at the family having been separated so quickly. Elie's last vision as they drifted off amongst the crowds of people; this was the last time he would see his mother and sister and he never had the opportunity to wish them goodbye.

 

The men including Elie and his father were forced to walk behind SS officers, who led them past burning fires, flames as high as houses, fuelled by SS officers who, Elie recalls, were remorselessly throwing babies, young children and elderly women into the fires. Elie was in complete disbelief, "How could this happen? How could people act so cruelly?".

 

Elie was shaken from his disbelief by a man who had suddenly approached, "Hey kid, how old are you?" "Fifteen," responded Elie. "No, you're not fifteen, you're eighteen!". The man then disappeared ahead. Confused by this brief conversation, Elie, his father and the rest of the group were forced to march onwards. Soon, they reached their first barrack. Here, they were brought in front of the notorious Dr Mengele. He ran the rule over where they were going to be headed, basing his judgement on how old they were and healthy they appeared to be. Elie, with the advice given to him by the conversation he had just had, managed to stay with his Father. They were forced to take a cold shower, before having their heads shaved. Once this process was over, they had to run to the barracks that they would be staying in that night. Without any clothes provided to them, Elie, his father and the remainder of the group endured a cold, sleepless night.

One afternoon, not long after Elie's entry into Auschwitz, the prisoners were called to line-up. Veteran inmates requested that they lift their left-arm sleeves; it was here that numbers were tattooed onto their arms. 'A-7713' was the number given to Elie; he recalled how at no point for the remainder of his imprisonment was he referred to by his name. A number became his identity. An officer then yelled over the noise from the yard in a chilling voice "You are in Concentration Camp Auschwitz!". Elie described the shiver that this sent down his spine.

 

Barrack 17 became Elie's home, but just for a short while. An order was put out for Elie's barrack to march; Elie recalled how he remembered looking back toward Auschwitz Birkenau and witnessing the cold iron gates close behind him. They were destined for Buna-Monowitz, a working camp not far from Auschwitz-Birkenau.