As Elie frankly admits, he survived his terrifying experiences of the camps largely by chance. He's equally adamant that he wasn't brave and that he didn't do anything to contribute to his survival. There was no heroism and were no miracles involved; it was all down to nothing more than chance.
In reading the story one would have to agree with Elie's assessment. At any given time, he could've ended up the same way as so many of the other Jewish prisoners. Starvation, disease, summary execution, any one of these factors could have struck him down at the drop of a hat. As there was no rhyme or reason to the Nazis' bestial savagery there was nothing to stop them from killing Elie whenever they felt like it. That they didn't was largely down to luck, as Elie realizes.
At the same time, Elie behaves in such a way as to minimize his chances of being killed. For instance, he keeps his head down, trying not to draw attention to himself. Even when his own father is being savagely beaten to within...
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