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The phrase happens early on in the narrative. This brings to light that much of what will happen in the book in terms of what is experienced is going to test how one views time. That is to say that what Eliezer deems as time "passed" will be vastly different as the book progresses. From a thematic point of view, the point at which Eliezer uses the phrase, Moshe the Beadle has lived through his own hell and has come back to Sighet to warn the other townspeople of what is in store for them. He is greeted with mocking derision and disbelief. Discredited and rejected, Moshe recognizes that his cries and warnings are falling upon the deaf ears of people who go back to their routines. For his part, Eliezer goes back to his studies and his father "took care of his business and the community" and "worrying about an appropriate match for Hilda." Life passes on without so much as a thought or secondary impulse that a fraction of what Moshe is saying is or could be true. The rhetorical use of the phrase is to bring to light that the insensitivity that was shown to victims of the Holocaust was first perpetrated amongst one another. In this light, one real tragic condition of the Holocaust was that individuals demonstrated the invalidation of humanity to one another, as it was appropriated by the victims of aggression to one another. The fact that the year passes without any recollection or serious rumination about reports brings this idea out that the Holocaust was the result of an invalidation of voices from all perspectives.
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