How did Eliezer's father avoid being selected at Gleiwitz in Wiesel's Night?

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The Jewish prisoners at Gleiwitz are divided up into two groups: weak and strong. Those deemed to be weak are to be killed immediately, whereas the strong will be used for slave labor. Initially, Eliezer's father is selected to join the weak group. But Eliezer runs after him, causing the...

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The Jewish prisoners at Gleiwitz are divided up into two groups: weak and strong. Those deemed to be weak are to be killed immediately, whereas the strong will be used for slave labor. Initially, Eliezer's father is selected to join the weak group. But Eliezer runs after him, causing the SS guards to pursue him. In the ensuing confusion, a number of men change sides, including Eliezer and his father.

What this episode shows us is that, despite the Germans' overall efficiency in carrying out mass murder, everything can so easily descend into chaos. All it takes is for one prisoner's survival instincts to kick in. The Jewish prisoners may lack the strength to overcome their Nazi captors, but they can still disrupt the day-to-day running of the camp, albeit on a relatively minor scale.

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Eliezer's father survives selection because of Eliezer.  Eliezer's father was slated for selection.  Yet, Eliezer is able to inch his way through the lines and bring him back to the "right" one.  In this, Wiesel shows how much survival was based so much on the sense of the arbitrary and pure "luck," if one wanted to call it that:

I inched my way through the crowd.  Several SS men rushed to find me, creating such confusion that a number of people were able to switch over to the right- among them my father and I.  Still, there were gunshots and some dead.

In this confusion, Eliezer was able to retrieve his father from the selection of Gleiwitz and forced to leave the camp on to Buchenwald, where the father will die.  In the end, there was no overarching or transcendental reason why the father survived selection.  Eliezer's grasp of the situation as well as the "luck" that other prisoners were switching lines became the critical reason why the father lived and others did not.

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