Why did the Hungarian lieutenant move among the prisoners with a basket?
The Jews of Sighet remained optimistic that they would not suffer the same fate as other Jews in German-controlled areas. When German officers arrived in their town, they still remained positive. Shortly after the arrival of the officers, the Jews were organized into Ghettos and, eventually, transported out of the town.
Eliezer and his family were among the last group of Jews to be transported out of Sighet. They were accompanied by Hungarian police officers, and the Jews believed they were being taken to labor camps. However, reality dawned on them when they reached Kaschau on the Czechoslovakian border. A German officer accompanied by a Hungarian officer stepped into the cattle car. The Hungarian lieutenant working as an interpreter informed the prisoners that they were under the authority of the German Army. They were also asked to hand over their valuables, gold, silver and watches. The Hungarian lieutenant carried a basket and went around collecting the valuables. The basket was where the valuables were collected.
In Night by Elie Wisel, the Hungarian Lieutenant walks among the prisoners when they arrive at Kaschau. He informs them that they will now be under the command of the German army and must give up any gold, silver, or watches they may still have. If they do not comply, the prisoners are told they will be shot on the spot. The lieutenant goes around and collects the last possessions from "those who no longer wished to taste the bitterness of terror". The prisoners who surrendered their belongings were desperately hoping that they would be spared this terrible ordeal through compliance.