Despite the horrific, inhumane conditions of the Nazi concentration camps, Elie witnesses small acts of human kindness that help him survive and endure the pain. When Elie and his father first arrive at Buna, a veteran prisoner tells Elie to say that he is eighteen and his father is forty years old. Simply by changing their ages, Elie and his father increase their chances of survival and avoid being separated.
Another prisoner named Béla Katz slips Elie and his father a note telling them not to appear too strong in order to avoid being sent to work in the crematorium.
While Elie is working in an electrical warehouse, Idek vents his fury by severely beating Elie for no apparent reason. When Idek leaves the warehouse, a beautiful French woman working alongside Elie comforts him and offers him words of encouragement.
After the Jewish prisoners endure a death march through the snow in the middle of the night, they finally arrive at the Gleiwitz camp and are packed into crowded barracks. Pressed together in the tightly packed barracks, Juliek begins playing a portion of Beethoven's concerto, which brings Elie and his father respite and hope in the horrific environment.