At the warehouse in Buna, Elie often works next to a young French girl. They never speak, because she apparently knows no German and Elie does not understand French. She is a forced labor deportee. One day, Idek, the Kapo, who is prone to "bouts of madness", furiously attacks Elie for no other reason than he got in his way. Elie takes a brutal beating, and when it is over, he drags himself to a corner, aching all over. The French girl comes over and wipes his blood-stained forehead with her hand and slips him a small piece of bread. She looks at him closely in the eye, and seems to want to say something. Suddenly she speaks to him encouragingly, telling him in perfect German not to cry, to save his "anger and hatred for another day".
In Paris many years later, Elie's attention is caught by a "very beautiful woman with black hair and dreamy eyes" sitting facing him in the Metro. It is the French girl who helped him that day in Buna. She remembers Elie, and reveals to him that she is indeed Jewish also. During the occupation she passed herself off as an Aryan. It was very dangerous for her to let anyone know she spoke German in the camp, but she took the chance with Elie because she "knew (he) wouldn't give (her) away" (Chapter 4).