Examine the significance of Eliezer's change as a result of his experiences in the concentration camps.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eiezer's change as a result of his experience in the concentration camps speaks to the terror of the Holocaust.  The changes he undergoes represents the very reason why the Holocaust as the embodiment of human evil.  Prior to his experiences in the concentration camps, Eliezer was very spiritual.  He was immersed in his religious studies, bound to his community, and wedded to the notion of God.  His experiences in the camp incrementally tear away at these.  Eliezer points to this in how in merely his first night at Birkenau, he feels that his experiences have "murdered my God and my faith forever."  As his experiences progress, Eliezer becomes consumed only with survival, "the empty stomach" being the only marker of time. Eliezer is reduced to surrendering any bonds to others, driven only with his need to survive.

The significance of such experiences are evident.  The real horror of the Holocaust existed in how easy dehumanization transpired.  The Nazis dehumanized their targets, who, in turn, appropriated this same dehumanization in how they viewed one another and themselves.  This removal of human identity is the most significant element in discussing Eliezer's experiences in the concentration camp because it shows to what extent genocide is an experience that seeks to remove the humanity of the individual.  Through Eliezer's experiences, one understands the truth of this in stunning and stark detail.