Why did the gypsy strike Eliezers father?
Eliezer and his father, Chlomo, were to be housed in a barracks at Auschwitz which was supervised by a Gypsy inmate. The Germans selected prisoners to act as supervisors in barracks, in work gangs, in factories, and in other settings. These supervisors were often given special treatment, such as slightly more food or slightly more liberty, than the rest of the prisoners in exchange for insuring no disturbances or problems. As a result, the supervisors were frequently even more brutal than the German guards themselves.
When Eliezer's father moved and spoke without permission, the Gypsy guard's response was calculated to impress his authority upon all the prisoners as well as to discipline Chlomo.
The Gypsy stared at him for a long time, from head to toe. As if he wished to ascertain that the person addressing him was actually a creature of flesh and bone, a human being with a body and a belly. Then, as if waking from a deep sleep, he slapped my father with such force that he fell down and then crawled back to his place on all fours.