In chapter 2, the Jews of Sighet have been rounded up and herded into cattle trucks bound for Auschwitz. Conditions inside the trucks are deplorable—there's no food or water, and the choking, unsanitary air is absolutely stifling due to the extreme heat. But the Jews have no choice; if anyone tries to escape, they'll be shot.
A middle-aged lady called Madame Schaecter starts going out of her mind. She's on board the train with her ten-year-old son and, having been separated from her husband and two older sons, becomes completely unhinged at the grim fate that she believes awaits her and the other prisoners. She begins having frightening visions about a vast, diabolical furnace which she points at through the window. People are understandably scared and unnerved by the woman's outbursts, so much so that they feel that they're about to go mad themselves. Some of the other prisoners descend upon Madame Schaecter, beating her up and trying to gag her. But despite their best efforts, she continues to scream throughout the night, becoming ever more deranged.
When the train finally arrives at Auschwitz, the Jews are told that it's a labor camp and that the conditions are good. This is a total lie, of course, as the Jewish prisoners soon discover to their horror. They also discover that Madame Schaecter's premonitions were frighteningly accurate. The smell of death is everywhere, and there, in the distance, is the notorious crematorium, billowing thick plumes of acrid smoke into the bleak, lightless atmosphere. Ironically, Madame Schaecter now falls silent as her apocalyptic vision materializes before her very eyes.