In Chapter Six of Night, the prisoners are forced to run through the snow "like automatons" by SS forces; anyone who slows down is shot to death, an act in which the SS takes great pleasure.
Zalman, a young Polish boy who had worked at an electrical material depot in Buna, starts experiencing stomach cramps. Elie encourages him to keep running, telling him that the SS cannot make the prisoners "run like this to the end of the world." Zalman cannot bear the pain; he undoes his buttons and lowers his pants, then drops to the ground.
Although Elie cannot be sure, he believes that Zalman must have been trampled under the running crowd of prisoners behind them who dared not stop to help the boy lest they themselves be killed.
In a tragic moment that summarizes the depths of depravity that prisoners of the Holocaust had to endure, Elie unemotionally states, "I soon forgot him. I began to think of myself again."