Elie's family is introduced living in the town of Sighet in Transylvania. Elie describes the importance of faith and how he wishes to learn more about his faith. He introduces his friend Moishe the Beadle who mentors him during his childhood. Talk of Nazi threat comes when Moishe escapes from their captivity.
German soldiers occupy SIghet and Jewish people are relocated to Ghettos set up in town. Everyone insists on saying that the situation will get better and this is only temporary. The Germans still act kind and comfort the civilians. Slowly the Germans get less kind and patient, enforcing strict curfews and acting angry.
The Germans force everyone out of their homes and take everyone's valuables. Everyone is stuffed in a cattle car with only a bucket for water. People are now realizing the gravity of the situation and panicking. Some scream and some hide in the crowd with their loved ones. They are taken to Auschwitz and Elie and his father is separated from his sister and mother who are assumed to be killed.
Elie and his father are alone and are being forced to do hard labor. A young boy is publicly executed by way of a drawn out painful hanging. The whole camp gathers together for a holiday prayer, but Elie doesn't want to participate. He is questioning God and why people are even still worshiping him if he is letting all of this pain continue.
Elie and his father along with the other prisoners are being evacuated from the work camps. It is freezing cold and no one has any suitable clothes. Elie's dad is getting sicker by the second and Elie is not sure if he will make it much further, yet he refuses to give up on taking care of him.
Elie's dad is dead after being neglected and abused by prisoners and doctors. Elie says despite being devastated, he feels free now that the only thing tying him down to Earth was gone. The camp is finally liberated and Elie is free after losing his faith and sanity.
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