Buna Monowitz Camp

'Buna-Monowitz, initially, proved to be a positive change from Auschwitz for Elie. He did complain, however, that it looked like an 'epidemic' had hit it, it looked 'empty' and 'dead'. Once inside, Elie was forced to shower and then made to run to the barrack that he had been assigned. Inside, he was provided with clothes; at this point, he was separated from his Father who had been forced into another barrack. For three days, Elie was forced to stay in his barrack with very small rations of soup and water. A dental checkup was also ordered for - not to check his teeth but to check for gold caps. Elie's number was taken.


Labour inside Buna Monowitz Camp

Elie recalled how life in Buna centred on his work in the Electrics Factory - here, he mentioned how a young French girl who had no knowledge of any German was assigned to work next to him inside the factory. She was pleasant but language proved an obstacle to any conversation they had. This was until Elie had an incident with Idek - the factory Commandant - who beat Elie severely for simply 'crossing his path'. The French girl tended to him and spoke softly to him in German - this surprised Elie immensely as he only believed that she spoke French. She explained quietly that this was her tactic to avoid drawing too much attention to herself. Returning back to the Camp, Elie's number was read out "A-7713, please report to the Infirmary!". Elie knew immediately that it must relate to the gold crown that was noted down earlier in the week.  A dentist awaits Elie as he enters the Dentist; somehow, however, Elie managed to convince the Dentist that he felt unwell and that he couldn't have his gold crown extracted today. The Dentist just told him to return back the next week. Unfortunately for the Dentist, it was revealed that he was running his own operation and not for the benefit of the Camp Nazis. He was soon executed and Elie managed to retain his gold crown - for now.


It wasn't long before Elie received more blows. Starving, Elie searched the camp extensively for food but to no avail. Instead, he found Idek - the Blockälteste - who was frolicking with a girl. Infuriated by Elie's discovery, Idek ordered for a roll call to take place. Elie was then paraded in front of the large crowd and portrayed as a traitor - he was then lashed twenty-six times. Another poignant image that Elie builds is that of men hanging from the gallows that were constructed in the Appelplatz of the Camp. Men hung for such trivial things. Elie was particuarly traumatised when a young boy suffered a similar fate, just for his suspected involvement in resistance against the Camp Authorities.


This chapter has been contributed by Rania Dossa, Isaac Kombe and Jason Nunes.