Describe the selection process Night author Elie Wiesel and his father go through after arriving at Birkenau.

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After traveling by overcrowded cattle car for several days, Night author Elie Wiesel and the other Jews of Sighet arrived at Birkenau, the reception center for the concentration camp, Auschwitz. They were immediately told to get into groups of five, and from there, they went through a selection process.

They were asked questions and the "notorious" Dr. Josef Mengele pointed his baton either to the left or to the right. Elie had no idea what way was the better way to go--he only wanted to go wherever his father was going. He was asked his age ("18"), whether or not he was in good health ("Yes"), and what his occupation was ("Farmer"). Then Dr. Mengele pointed his baton to the left. Elie's father was also sent to the left. From there they were marched toward a fire pit and thought they were headed for death. Elie saw, as they got closer, a lorry pull up and dump a load of children and babies into the fire. At the last moment, the line Elie and his father were in was turned away toward the barracks.