In the book Night, what is tattooed on Elie's arm?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Elie's serial number tattoo is A-7713.

Towards the end of chapter 3, Elie describes how he was assigned to work in Block 17 and was tattooed on his left arm as a form of identification shortly after being assigned a work location. Elie mentions that the SS guards lined the prisoners up while three other prisoners brought over a table with some medical instruments. Elie and the other prisoners were told to roll up their left sleeves, and the three prisoners tattooed their arms. Elie is tattooed with the serial number A-7713 on his left arm.

Interestingly, prisoners were only tattooed at the Auschwitz concentration camp complex during the Holocaust. The tattoos served as a means of identifying the prisoners and they would have to show their tattoos to the Nazi officers before receiving food. After Elie receives his tattoo on his arm, he says, "From then on, I had no other name" (Wiesel, 67). Elie's individual identity is nonexistent during the Holocaust and dramatically impacts his self-perception. Erasing the prisoners' individual identities and replacing their names with serial numbers is one of the ways the Nazis effectively oppressed and controlled the Jewish prisoners at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

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Jews in concentration camps had to be marked in some way for record-keeping and identification purposes. 

On Weisel's first night in Auschwitz, he is assigned to Block 17, where he is to sleep in a bed with another boy or man. On the afternoon of his second day there, he is lined up with other prisoners and they are given tattoos on their left arms, three people at a time. His is A-7713. This operation was run by the Nazis, but the tattoos were administered by Weisel's fellow Jews. 

This number becomes his name, as far as the Nazis are concerned. 

This means he arrived in Aushwitz in 1944, as this is when the A series of arm tattoos were in use. Contrary to popular belief, Auschwitz was the only concentration camp that tattooed its prisoners. 

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