Elie and his family is all introduced. They all live in the town called Sighet. Elie becomes intrigued by Judaism. Moishe the Beadle is introduced and is willing to be Elie's teacher/master in the teachings of Jewish mysticism.
During World War II, all foreign Jews were deported, including Moishe the Beadle. Moishe then is able to escape the the SS while they are murdering the others. He returns to Sighet and proceeds to warn the people, but no one listens.
German Soldiers enter the town Sighet, later forming ghettos. Then all the Jews realize they are going to be transported to concentration camps. Elie and his father are put into the same cattle car, listening to the screams of Mrs. Schatcher about fire.
The family first reaches Birkenau where they are separated from the woman and then sent to Auschwitz, then to Buna. Elie and his father begin to work in Buna where Elie experiences death. He begins to lose his faith in the camp and cannot find anything to praise God for.
After a while at the camp, Elie's foot swells up and has to have an operation. After his operation the camp begins an evacuation(also known as the death march) which is 50 miles to Gleiwitz. Many die on the train as well. They started with 100 men on the train and only twelve survived, Elie and his father among them.
Elie's father then dies in Buchenwald, causing Elie to have many emotions as well as something Elie would never forget. When Elie finally reached the strength to gaze at himself in a mirror after it was all over he said "From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me".