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The incredibly disturbing experience of Moishe the Beadle is described to us in the first chapter, which of course foreshadows what is to come for Elie's family and Jewish community. We are told how Moishe's whole neighbourhood was rounded up, put on trains and taken to alocation where they had to dig trenches whilst the Gestapo watched. Then, when the trenches were completed, the Gestapo shot the Jews cruelly and efficiently. Moishe only managed to escape because he was wounded and the Gestapo thought that he was dead. Consider how this experience is described:

They were forced to dig huge trenches. When they had finished their work, the men from the Gestapo began theirs. Without passion or haste, they shot their prisoners, who were forced to approach the trench one by one and offer their necks. Infants were tossed into the air and used as targets for the machine guns... How had he, Moishe the Beadle, been able to escape? By a miracle. He was wounded in the leg and left for dead...

What is important to note about this experience is the way in which the Jews of Elie's community choose to deliberately ignore the warning explicit in Moishe's account. This of course is something that is repeated again and again, as no matter how grim the situation becomes, key figures choose to disregard the obvious evidence that something bad is going to happen and cling on to vain hope instead.

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