In Chapter 5 of Night, why did the camp evacuate, and what happened to those who stayed behind at the hospital?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In Chapter 5, the camp was to be evacuated because the Russians were approaching.  Those who stayed behind in the hospital "were quite simply liberated by the Russians two days after the evacuation".

Elie had actually been in the hospital recuperating from surgery on his foot when a rumor went around the camp that "the front had suddenly drawn nearer...the Red ARmy...was advancing on Buna, it was only a matter of hours now".  In the chaos that ensued, Elie ran outside to look for his father.  When he found him, the two of them weighed whether their chances of survival would be greater if they stayed at the hospital or if they ran with the others.  After some deliberation, Elie decides that they would be better off being evacuated with the rest of the prisoners.  It seemed unthinkable that the patients at the hospitals would be left unmolested to await their liberators; rumor had it that "all the invalids "would be summarily killed...and sent to the crematory in a final batch".

Elie learned later that had he and his father stayed behind at the hospital, they would have been liberated when the Russians came.  As it is, the two are forced on a grueling march to another camp at Gleiwitz, and then on to Buchenwald (Chapter 5).

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thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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Eliezer’s foot started to swell due to the cold, making it impossible for him to move around. The situation forced him into the infirmary, and he was attended to by a Jewish doctor. The doctor settled on performing an operation on Eliezer in order to save his leg from amputation. The surgery went well, and Eliezer was set to recover. However, rumors spread around the camp that the front was drawing closer to the camp. The Red Army was swiftly making its way to the Buna concentration camp. The Germans decided to evacuate the camp and the prisoners prepared for the journey. Eliezer left the infirmary to find his father. He hoped that his father would make the decision on whether they should embark on the journey or stay in the infirmary. Eliezer suggested they be evacuated with the other prisoners and his father agreed. After the war, Eliezer learned that those who remained at the camp were liberated by the Russians.

"Well, Father, what do we do?"

He was silent.

"Let's be evacuated with the others," I said.

He didn't answer. He was looking at my foot.

"You think you'll be able to walk?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Let's hope we won't regret it, Eliezer."

AFTER THE WAR, I learned the fate of those who had remained at the infirmary. They were, quite simply, liberated by the Russians, two days after the evacuation.

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