Where do Elie and his father work during the day?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At Auschwitz, where Elie and his father spend the first three weeks of their imprisonment, there is basically nothing to do. Elie reports that it was like a "rest home" and most afternoons were spent sleeping. Ironically, there are signs at Auschwitz saying "Work is Liberty." When Elie and his father are transferred to Buna, part of the Auschwitz network of concentration camps, they work at an electrical warehouse counting "bolts, bulbs, and small electrical fittings." Even though the work is said to be of "vast importance" Elie is told to take his time but not to be caught slacking off while the SS watched. Sometimes the prisoners were used to "load diesel engines onto trains supervised by German soldiers." During this time, Elie and his father are often terrorized by Idek, one of the Kapos in charge of the workers. A Polish prisoner, and musician, named Juliek warns that Idek "has bouts of madness." Both Elie and his father are victims of Idek's anger and sometimes find themselves the recipients of random blows with an iron bar. When Buna is evacuated in the winter of 1945, the prisoners embark on a forced march to Gleiwitz, where thousands die. Elie and his father survive the march, but the father dies of dysentery at Buchenwald.    

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