In Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night, on many occasions does Elie witness one of the other Jewish prisoners be executed by hanging. The first hanging is shortly after Allied forces bomb the Buna factory in Auschwitz. A week after the bombing Elie and thousands of other Jews return from labor to find gallows constructed in the appelplatz, the camp square where roll call occurs each day.
With guards surrounding the group, a condemned man is brought forth. His crime is stealing during the air raid. “The thousands of people who died daily in Auschwitz and Birkenau,” Wiesel writes, “in the crematoria, no longer troubled me. But this boy, leaning against his gallows, upset me deeply.” For Elie, this type of death is new to him. He is not desensitized to it. Even so, he and the other prisoners watch as the young man is hung. Before going back to their block for the evening meal, they must march past his dead body.
“I remember that on that evening,” Wiesel continues, “the soup tasted better than ever…” Though watching a man die by hanging is new to him, he is quickly able to move on. One could argue that Elie’s comment about the soup’s taste reflects his gratitude about surviving another day when others did not.