Elie Wiesel was born on September 30, 1928. The Buchenwald concentration camp was liberated by the Americans on April 11, 1945. Wiesel would have been sixteen years old at the time. This event is the last significant event of the novel, though Wiesel goes beyond this point to two weeks and three days later, just as he was recovering from an illness.
Elie's young age at the time of the camp's liberation is thematically significant. His childhood was cut off by Nazi oppression. He has spent the formative years of his adolescence as a prisoner and has been forced to endure horrible atrocities. Most teenagers have a hard time coming to terms with burgeoning adulthood under even normal circumstances, but Elie must grapple with responsibility, faith, and the adult world within the most horrific context possible.
By the time he turns sixteen, he has lost family members, his faith in a loving God, and his faith in the goodness of mankind. In the final scene of the book, he examines himself in the mirror and describes his reflection as "a corpse." Despite his youth, he has seen things that have aged him prematurely and will no doubt haunt him for the rest of his life.