In chapter 5, Elie finds himself hospitalized because of extreme foot pain. He is worried that his foot will be amputated, rendering him "useless" in the eyes of Nazi officers and making him a primary target for the next selection. As he is recovering, he learns that the Red Army is advancing and is now only hours away from their camp. A doctor tells Elie that the camp will be evacuated the next day and that the sick can remain in the hospital.
This news strikes Elie as odd. Why would the SS leave the sick behind, possibly to be liberated after all the pain the SS had inflicted upon them? Elie's hospital neighbor is certain that all those left behind will be thrown into the furnaces. Elie thinks of his father, who is not hospitalized, and can't stand the thought of being separated from him.
Elie runs outside and locates his father; they discuss their options and decide to be evacuated with the others. Elie isn't sure that he can walk on his foot yet, but they commit themselves to the effort and to further imprisonment, believing that they stand a better chance at survival in choosing to go to the next camp.
After the war, Elie learns that those who remained at the hospital, where his father could have been admitted as a temporary patient as well, were simply liberated by the Russians two days after the camp was evacuated.