Night Chapter 6
The SS guards fire on anyone who cannot keep up with the march. At Elie's side, a Polish lad, Zalman, gets a stomach cramp and falls behind. Elie guesses that the others trample Zalman to death. As Elie is reminded of the pain in his foot, death seems to draw closer. Only the thought of his father keeps Elie moving. For the prisoners, the only thing that matters is survival:
"We were masters of nature, masters of the world. We had forgotten everything-death, fatigue, our natural needs. Stronger than cold or hunger, stronger than the shots and the desire to die, condemned and wandering, mere numbers, we were the only men on earth." Chapter 6, pg. 83
After covering a distance of more than forty-two miles, finally, they are allowed to rest. Many prisoners, including Elie and his father, force their way into a roofless brick factory. Elie falls asleep in the snow until his father wakes him up. They force themselves outside, but seeing no other place to rest, they re-enter the shed. All around lay bodies, some just frozen corpses, others, getting some rest so that they can set out again. Elie wakes his father up and sees him smile. "I shall always remember that smile. From which world did it come?" Chapter 6, pg. 86 Elie bewilderingly asks.
Just then, Rabbi Elihou, enters the shed and asks if anyone has seen his son. The rabbi is well known and loved by everyone and his presence is said to bring people genuine peace and comfort. He asks Elie if he has seen his son. Elie has not. As the rabbi leaves, Elie suddenly remembers seeing the rabbi's son deliberately run ahead of his father in order to get rid of him-a dead weight. Elie is horrified at the thought that a son could do so, but is also comforted that Rabbi Eliahou would continue looking for his beloved son. Elie prays to a God that he no longer believes in, to give him the strength not to be like the rabbi's son.
The march resumes again as the snow starts to fall. The surviving prisoners walk for several more hours until they reach Gleiwitz. They are thrown into overcrowded barracks where they lie on top of one another. There, Elie hears the voice of his friend, Juliek. A body on top of Elie almost suffocates him to death. Elie is barely able to free himself. In the room full of dying men, Elie suddenly hears the sound of Juliek's violin. He plays Beethoven's concerto. The next day, Elie awakes to see Juliek dead, his violin crushed. To this day, when he hears Beethoven's concerto, Elie Wiesel remembers Juliek's concert: "How could I forget that concert, given to an audience of dying and dead men!" Chapter 6, pg. 90
After three days in the barracks of Gleiwitz without any bread or water, the prisoners are forced to march again because the Russian front is advancing. There is another selection where Elie's father is chosen. Elie somehow manages to cause such confusion that his father is able to sneak back to the other side. While they wait for the train, the prisoners eat their meager ration of bread. For water, they eat the snow accumulated on each other's backs. The guards find this amusing. The train arrives in the evening and the Jews are packed in, one hundred to a carriage.