Who was Moshe the Beadle? Why was he an important figure in Mr. Wiesel's life?
a poor man who worked at the synagogue and was accepted by the townspeople;; became Elie's master, with whom he studied the Zohar and discussed its teachings.
Discuss the importance of religion in Mr. Wiesel's young life.
believed profoundly; wanted to study the cabbala, so sought his own master, Moshe
What significant event happened to Moshe the Beadle? Why? What story did he tell upon his return? How did Moshe escape this wretchedness?
deported to Galicia because he was a "foreign Jew";; they were made to dig huge graves, then the Gestapo murdered them, even using babies for target practice; he escaped because he was wounded in the leg and taken for dead.
Why did people refuse to listen to his stories of what had happened?
they thought he wanted them to pity him.
Moshe said, "I wanted to come back to Sighet to tell you the story of my death. So that you could prepare yourselves while there was still time." What did he mean by this?
his spirit had died; he knew the same would happen to the rest of them
Why did Elie's father refuse to sell his business and move to Palestine? What is your opinion of his decision? Why?
he felt he was too old to start a new life from scratch in a country far away;
What were the Fascists doing to the Jews in Budapest? Why did the others refuse to take this action seriously?
there were anti-Semitic incidents, they were attacking Jewish shops and synagogues; they thought the Germans would stay in Budapest
After the leaders of the Jewish community were arrested, what were the orders to the other Jews?
Jews could not leave their houses for three days, they had to give up everything of value, wear a yellow star, could not go to restaurants, travel the rails, attend synagogue, or go out after six
What was the ghetto? At first, why were the Jews unconcerned about being placed in the ghettos? Soon afterwards, what happened to make them change their minds?
a small group of houses where all Jews were ordered to go; they thought they were safe, having set up their own mini-government, and they were living among Jews, avoiding the hate-laden stares; they thought they would remain there until the end of the war. Elie's father returned from the council meeting with the news that the Ghettos were to be wiped out.
The inspector from the Hungarian police knocked on the window, but by the time someone went to see who it was, he was gone. What is the significance of this?
He had told Elie's father that if there was danger he would come and tell them. He tried, but no one came to hear his warning.
How did the Hungarian police treat the Jews as they told them the time had come?
hit anyone and everyone with truncheons and rifle butts; denied them water
Why did the Jews leave their valuables behind?
worldly goods had lost all value to them
Explain why Elie and his older sisters refused to go to Martha's village with her.
they would not leave their parents and sister behind; did not want to be separated
Describe the conditions in the cattle car.
eighty to a car, a few loaves of bread, little water; anyone trying to escape would be shot
What had happened to Madame Schächter to make her behave as she did? What did she continually shout about to the Jews?
her husband and two eldest sons had been deported in the first transport by mistake; she kept shouting about the fires, flames, furnace
How did the men finally subdue her?
tied and gagged her, later striking her on the head with blows that might have killed her
When they reached a station, where were they? What would they do there?
Auschwitz; it was a labor camp, where they would do forced labor
What did Madame Schächter's cries foreshadow?
her cries foreshadowed the flames coming from the chimneys of the crematories
As they arrived at Auschwitz, why do you think Elie was apprehensive when the women went one way and the men went the other way? Were his fears realistic? Explain.
He was worried about what would happen to his mother and sisters; yes, two of them died
"Behind me, an old man fell to the ground. Near him was an SS man, putting his revolver back in its holster ." What had actually happened in this scene?
the man had been shot by the SS
Explain why the prisoner told Elie to say that he was eighteen, rather than fifteen.
he knew that if he told them he was 18, he had a better chance of survival because they were more apt to exterminate children
Why, when the young men with the knives tried to incite the others to revolution, did the wind of revolt die down?
their parents begged them not to do anything foolish, not to lose faith, according to the teachings of their sages
What was Dr. Mengele's role at Auschwitz?
in this section, he performed the selections (in reality, he was the doctor who orchestrated the brutal human experimentation on the prisoners)
What was in the lorry that was brought to the ditch? How did Elie react to what he saw?
dead babies to be burned;; he was horrified and knew he wouldn't be able to sleep
What was the first sign that Elie was beginning to question God?
"For the first time, I felt revolt rise up in me. Why should I bless his name? The Eternal, Lord of the Universe, the All- Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank Him for?"
Elie made up his mind what he would do if he were forced into the ditch with the burning bodies. What was his plan of action? What kept him from doing it?
He planned to run into the electric wire rather than burn to death; as they approached the pit, they turned and went into a barracks
As Elie and the others made their way into the barracks, why were some of the prisoners armed with truncheons and ready to use them?
they were most likely told by the SS to keep the prisoners in line
What was the job of the men of the Sonder-Kommando? How were they chosen?
they worked the crematories; chosen for their strength
Beginning with giving up their clothes, describe the process all new prisoners went through when they came to the camp. Why do you think they had to do this?
give up clothes, keeping only belts and shoes; go to barber; disinfection; hot shower; clothes were thrown to them in any size;
Why do you suppose Elie did nothing when the Gypsy in charge gave his father a clout that knocked him to the ground?
he might have been afraid that the same thing would happen to him or that his father would get something worse if he interfered
Why do you think the young Pole, the prisoner in charge, spoke those "first human words"?
people are who they are; he was a kind person before this and will remain that way, besides he was probably treated badly when he arrived and knew how it felt
Why did Elie lie to Stein, Reizel's husband?
he didn't want him to lose hope and let himself die
Do you think Elie and his father believed that Tzipora and his mother were still alive? Explain.
they had a feeling they were no longer alive, but neither of them wanted the other to know it
Why did the officer take such an interest in the younger children?
there were some homosexual Nazis who were trafficking in children, and using them for their own pleasure
What was the unfortunate incident with Elie's shoes?
an assistant tried to bribe him into giving them up; when he refused, they were taken from him anyway, this time in exchange for nothing
How were the medical exam and the dental exam different for Elie?
The medical doctor barely looked at him; the dentist was very interested in his gold crown
What did Yossi, Tibi, and Elie have in common that made them become friends?
they were approximately the same age; they knew innumerable Hebrew chants and took their religion seriously; their parents had also refused to wind up their affairs and leave while there was still time; they decided that they would all go to Haifa if they lived through the war
When Elie was summoned to the dentist, what was odd about the way the dentist looked?
he had horrible yellow, decaying teeth
How was Elie able to get out of having his crown pulled from his mouth? What warning did the dentist give him?
he told the dentist he didn't feel well;; the dentist told him not to wait until he sent for him
Briefly describe the incident between Idek and Elie.
Idek went into a fit of frenzy, leapt on him and beat him severely, his blows growing more and more violent; suddenly he sent Elie back to work; to Idek, it was as though they had been playing some kind of game
What did the French girl do that surprised Elie? How was she able to pass as Aryan?
she spoke almost perfect German; she had obtained forged papers, and by speaking only French, they never suspected she was a Jew
Why was Elie angry with his father when Idek beat him?
he was angry that his father didn't know how to avoid Idek's outbreak—this is what the concentration camp had made of him
Franek wanted Elie's gold crown. What did he do to convince him to give it up?
Franek taunted his father until Elie could no longer watch it happen
Why was Elie beaten with a whip? What had he seen?
he was beaten because he had seen Idek with a girl; he was used to set an example for the others
Why and for whom were the gallows set up the first time?
they were going to hang a man who had stolen something during the raid
What happened to the pipel, the one with the face of a sad angel? What had he done?
the pipel was tortured and hanged; he was guilty only of being associated with the Oberkapo, who was transferred to Auschwitz because they found him with arms and suspected him of sabotage
What terrible thing happened to the pipel on the gallows?
he hung there for over a half hour, struggling between life and death
On the last day of this year, how was the way the prisoners looked at Rosh Hashanah different from the way they used to view the Jewish New Year?
This year they worried about the last day of the year: what if indeed this was their last day?
How do Elie's thoughts show that he is losing faith in God?
He can't understand why God has abandoned them as they proclaim their faith;; he does not know why he should bless Him, as He allowed thousands of children to burn in the pits, let the crematories burn in the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna and so many factories of death. How could he send praises to One who chose the Jews to be tortured and watch their families annihilated in the crematories?
Analyze Wiesel's meaning in the following statements: "I was no longer capable of lamentation... I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused.... I stood amid that praying congregation, observing it like a stranger."
He could no longer express his grief; he felt more powerful than his God, who had abandoned him. No longer could he praise Him, but only ask himself "why?" as he watched the others in prayer.
What was the "fine New Year's gift" the SS gave the prisoners?
another selection; the promise of more deaths
Rations had become more meager. Is that a good or a bad thing? Why?
bad; meager means scanty, insufficient, or small
What was Elie's "inheritance"?
his father's knife and spoon
What was Elie's father's fate at the second selection?
He was spared.
Describe Elie's surgery.
His foot was lanced without anesthesia. He passed out and when he awoke he thought his leg had been amputated.
What would have happened to Elie if he had stayed in the hospital after his surgery?
He learned after the war that those who stayed behind in the hospital had simply been liberated by the Russians.
What was the last act performed by the men an hour before leaving camp? Why?
They scoured the barracks so the liberating army would know that there had been men living there, not pigs.
Why do you think the men were forced to run? What would be their fate if they did not?
The SS wanted them to get away before the liberators came, and they didn't care how hard it was for the prisoners. They would have been shot to death if they fell back or couldn't keep up.
Why were men underfoot crushed, trampled, dying? Why did no one pay attention?
The men had been running for over 4 hours and were exhausted and weak, so they collapsed when they arrived at their destination. Some were so tired they could not hold out and died under the feet of the others. They paid no attention because they had become so calloused and were so used to seeing death, their senses of decency and humanity were no longer functioning.
Why wouldn't Elie allow himself to go to sleep again in the shed, even as his father watched over him?
He was afraid he would die and he could not stand to think he would die that type of death.
As Rabbi Eliahou came looking for his son, what did we learn about his son?
His son had seen his father faltering as they ran, so he ran even faster, trying to get rid of him! He felt that his father was growing weak and he wanted to be free of the encumbrance that could lessen his own chances of survival.
Upon arrival at Gleiwitz, Elie and his father were thrown into a mass of bodies. How did this happen to them and what did they do to free themselves?
The Kapos shoved the men into the barracks as they arrived, with no concern for who was underfoot or in the way. Everyone was falling down and landing on top of each other, piling up in huge numbers. Elie bit and scratched and succeeded in digging a hole through this wall of dying people.
While he was trapped under the many bodies, Elie heard a rattling cry from somewhere beneath them. It was an old friend Juliek. What was Juliek most concerned about? What did he do with it?
His violin; he played Beethoven to his dying compatriots.
What do you think happened to Juliek that night?
His violin was smashed, so someone had probably gotten tired of him playing and smashed the violin and Juliek at the same time.
What happened to Elie's father as the selection was taking place? How did the confusion save him?
He was chosen for the line that led to death; Elie ran after him, causing the confusion, and as it happened, he and his father were both able to run back to the right to safety, however there were shots and others were killed in the fracas.
Why had so many of the prisoners died during the night?
They had spent three days without food or water, and as they were being deported, they had run for hours and were exhausted; when the train finally came, it had no protection from the cold and snow.
Why did the train stop in the middle of a deserted field? Why did this make the prisoners so happy?
The SS wanted to dispose of the dead bodies; there would be more room on the train.
How long was the journey?
Ten days and ten nights
To what did Wiesel liken the story of the Germans throwing bread into the wagon? Why was it so upsetting to him?
He tells the story of a visit to Aden, later in his life. The passengers were throwing coins to the "natives" who nearly killed each other trying to get the coins for themselves. It reminded him too much of the men on the train diving for bread and fighting each other to the death for it.
Briefly recount the story of the father who got the bread for himself and his son.
The father managed to grab a bit of bread, when he felt a large figure looming over him—his son. The son felled his father, who died from the blows. His son took the bread from him, but was attacked by two others, who killed him for his bite of bread.
Of the one hundred who had started the journey, how many climbed down from the train at Buchenwald?
After waiting so long in the snow and icy wind, why were the prisoners finally allowed to go into the blocks?
There was an alert and the sirens began to wail.
What did Elie do that made him feel "ashamed forever"?
He awoke in the morning hoping that he would not find his father so he would not have to worry about him and could struggle for his own survival.
Why weren't the sick prisoners given anything to eat?
They were told that they would certainly die soon anyway, so it would be a pity to waste the food.
As Chlomo lie on his bed near death, what did he feel he needed to tell Elie?
He wanted to tell him that he had hidden the gold and the money in the cellar of their old home.
Elie took his father to see the doctor who would not treat him for his dysentery because he was a surgeon and that wasn't his business. When a second doctor came to the block, he was there for only one reason. What was this reason?
to finish off the sick
What was most likely the major contributing factor in Elie's father's death?
The officer crushed his skull with his truncheon.
After Elie's father died, Elie could think of only one thing. What was that?
He had only one desire—to eat.
Where was Elie sent to live?
the children's block
Although over the loudspeakers came the order to assemble, some prisoners whispered to the children that they should go back. Why?
The guards were going to shoot them.
The evacuations did not take place and were postponed until the following day. Instead, the resistance decided to act. What was the result?
The SS fled; the resistance had taken charge.
Coincidentally, what took place at 6:00 that evening?
The first American tanks stood at the gates of Buchenwald.
What was ironic about Elie's bout with food poisoning shortly after the liberation?
He managed to stay alive throughout all the horrors of the Holocaust, and now that he was set free, he almost died from food poisoning.