In Night by Elie Wiesel, describe the ghetto evacuation and journey to Auschwitz.

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kathik eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Night by Elie Wiesel, when the Jews were expelled from Sighet, they were first marched to the main synagogue. This happened on a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. At the synagogue, they found the bimah (altar) broken and the building vandalized. The Jewish people spent twenty-four hours there, so crowded together, breathing was difficult for them. The men and women were separated, and there were no bathrooms for them to use, so they were forced to use the corners of the room to relieve themselves.  

The following day, the Jewish people were marched to the train station and forced to load into cattle cars. Eighty people were pushed into each car and given a little bread and some buckets of water. The Hungarian police orchestrated all of this, and one person in each car was put in charge and told, "...if anyone escaped, he would be shot" (Wiesel 20). 

The train cars were crowded, so the people took turns sitting down. They never ate enough to feel satisfied because they didn't know how long the journey would take and feared running out of food. One woman in the same car as Elie Wiesel began to cry out about seeing a fire, and as she became more and more hysterical, the others yelled at her and hit her. Once they reached Auschwitz though, they saw the fires, too. There, the Jews were greeted by truncheons and torches.

"In front of us flames. In the air that smell of burning flesh. It must have been about midnight. We had arrived--at Birkenau, reception center for Auschwitz" (Wiesel 26).

Read the study guide:
Night

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