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Elie and his family consisting of his three sisters and his parents live in Sighet, Transylvania. Ever since a young age, Eliezer has had a deep interest in Judaism and achieving mysticism. Moishe the Beadle serves the purpose of a religious mentor for Elie and Elie believed he was the key person to help him achieve becoming one with God.
As the tensions of the war grew, Jews in Sighet continue to be persecuted against and the restrictions put upon them continued to prohibit their daily lives. They are eventually involuntarily moved into ghettos forcing all Jews to live together. Just as Elie and the Jews of Sighet adapted to life in the ghettos, they got the horrifying news that they were being sent away to a secret location.
After learning about their deportation to a secret location, Elie and his family spend the next few days in the blazing sun waiting for their turn to the cattle cars. The Weisel maid begs them to escape to her house in the village but the family declines. Eventually, after waiting in the destroyed synagogue, Elie’s family along with 80 other Jews are loaded into the cattle cars. On the journey to the concentration camps, Mrs. Schachter yells “fire” even though there is nothing in sight. As she becomes more and more hysterical, the people in the cattle car increasingly became impatient with her.
After arriving at the concentration camp in Birkenau, Elie and his father are permanently separated from his mother and sisters. As they moved from camp to camp, him and his father grew weaker and more sick. Elie’s father becomes extremely frail and gets dysentery, eventually leading to his death in Buchenwald.
Elie remains in Buchenwald after his father’s death and focuses all of his energy on food and his survival. On April 11, the American army arrives at Buchenwald and liberates the camp freeing Elie and all other prisoners. After being free, Elie’s main goal is to find food to survive, however in this process he also gets extreme food poisoning.
Because of Elie’s extreme sickness, he spends weeks in the hospital fighting between life and death. As he begins to recover, he raises himself and looks at his reflection in the mirror for the first time since he left the ghetto in Sighet. His weak and “corpse-like” appearance is ingrained in Elie’s mind to this day.
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