Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
*Birkenau. Polish town that is the site of the first concentration camp in which the Wiesel family is imprisoned. Following their stay in the ghetto, the family, along with their neighbors, are put onto trains and sent to concentration camps. Their first stop is Birkenau, where they are introduced to the horrors that follow. There they see families separated, mothers and children going in one direction and fathers and working-age sons in another. Wiesel’s mother and sister are taken from him and, as he learns later, murdered. At Birkenau young Wiesel witnesses people giving up on life and willing themselves to die. In fact, Wiesel himself contemplates suicide, but the religious teachings he receives at home and the dogged determination of his father keep him from killing himself.
*Auschwitz. Polish city that is the site of another concentration camp to which Wiesel, his father, and numerous workers from their first camp are later sent. There, Wiesel is briefly separated from his father. Although he is still in a concentration camp, Wiesel finds Auschwitz much more attractive than his previous prison because it is cleaner. Even though his job as a factory worker allows him to prove that he should be allowed to live, Wiesel becomes jaded and numb to the beatings he experiences and the deaths of those around him. About the time he becomes acclimated to his new surroundings, Wiesel is sent to Buna with his father.
The greatest adjustment that Wiesel makes at the new camp is to the smell of burning bodies. There, too, Wiesel undergoes surgery on a seriously injured foot. Acquaintances warn him that he must not remain in the hospital too long or he will be killed. At one point, while still recovering, Wiesel is forced to march in the prison yard with other prisoners to prevent Russian planes from bombing the camp. In fact, the weak and wounded prisoners are forced to make a forty-two mile march to another concentration camp, Buchenwald.
Upon reaching this camp, the prisoners are allowed to rest. However, as a result of their long march and a serious case of dysentery, Wiesel’s father dies, leaving his son to survive on his own. Elie is eventually among the few prisoners who are finally liberated from Buchenwald.
Scenes in the concentration camps become even more focused when Wiesel takes readers into the barracks, factories, hospitals, and death chambers that become the scenes of horror. He survived in part because of the strong religious faith that he had developed through his early education and the examples of his parents.