In Chapter 3 of Elie Wiesel's Night, what is the first horrifying sight that Elie at first disbelieves?

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ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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When Elie and his father are marched into Auschwitz he learns of the crematoriums and what their fate is to be.  He sees a large burning pit.  Within the pit are burning bodies.  He sees people throwing babies and small children into the fire.  Elie writes:

"Not far from us, flames, huge flames, were rising from a ditch.  Something was being burned there.  A truck drew close and unloaded its hold: small children. Babies! Yes, I did see this, with my own eyes... children thrown into the flames...  I pinched myself: was I still alive? Was I awake? How was it possible that men, women, and children were being burned and the world kept silent?  No.  All this could not be true."

thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

It was on arrival at Birkenau that Eliezer witnessed one of the most horrific sights that left him shocked and in disbelief. Eliezer witnessed babies being burnt alive in the crematoria.

Eliezer and the other Jews arrived at Birkenau amidst hope that all would be well. However, as they walked into the camp, the situation changed. The camp was full of SS officers with their guns trained on them. The smell of burning flesh was in the air, and women and men were separated. The men were selected based on age to ensure they were capable of handling the hardships ahead. During the selection, Eliezer and his father were advised by an older prisoner to lie about their age to secure their survival. Father and son were waved to the left and narrowly escaped death. However, they came close enough to the crematoria to witness the burning of men, women and children.

NEVER SHALL I FORGET that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.

Never shall I forget that smoke.

Never shall I forget the small faces of the children whose bodies

I saw transformed into smoke under a silent sky.

Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever.

Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence that deprived me for all eternity of the desire to live.

Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.

Never shall I forget those things, even were I condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.


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