How does that inscription come to embody the deceit and bitter irony of the Nazi camps?Eliezer sees the now-infamous inscription above the entrance to Auschwitz, equating work with liberty.
Upon first entering into Auschwitz, there is a sign above the entrance that reads: "Arbeit macht frei", meaning "work makes you free". The irony of the sign is blatant; work DOES NOT make you free in Auschwitz, or any other concentration camp. Jews were forced to work to the brink of death (often pushed over the brink of death), but no matter how hard they worked, they were never set free. The Nazis knew the sign was a scam, and freedom was never to be an option for the Jews. This embodies the deceitfulness of the Nazis because they gave Jews a sliver of hope that was nothing but a figment of their imagination. Although Auschwitz had the worst reputation in terms of torture and amount of work, no concentration camp ever granted freedom in exchange for work. So while this sign, "arbeit macht frei", might have gaven some Jews hope and determination and made them work harder, it was nothing more than a ploy for the Nazis to make their prey work as hard as possible, never even inching closer to the freedom they so desperately desired.