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What Is the First Selection?

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The first selection in Night meant the first split in Elie’s family. Men and women were separated at the concentration camp. One of the prisoners warned Elie and his father to lie about their age to survive.

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After fourteen-year-old Elie and his family arrived in Auschwitz, the guards ordered the deportees to get out and stand in a row. Then they went through the initial selection process. Men were separated from women and children, and Elie lost his mother and sister. The Nazis quickly examined everyone and decided if a prisoner was healthy and strong enough for forced labor. Then they directed them to stand on the left or right. The prisoners did not understand that at that moment, it was decided whether to live or die. Infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly, the disabled, and the sick were less likely to qualify for the first selection.

One prisoner told Elie and his father to lie about their ages. Elie had to say that he was older and his father should seem younger to suit for forced labor and thus save their lives. They were confused but quickly understood the reason. They survived the first selection thanks to the prisoner’s advice. At the same time, another prisoner mocked them, saying that they did not survive the initial selection. This episode indicates how different people behave in the worst situations. While some prisoners showed kindness and helped newcomers with recommendations, others were ready to morally kill the new prisoners.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'What Is the First Selection'. 29 September.

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