From that moment on, everything happened very quickly. The race toward death had begun.
First edict: Jews were prohibited form leaving their residences for three days, under penalty of death.
The same day, the Hungarian police burst into every Jewish home in town: a Jew was henceforth forbidden to own gold, jewelry, or any valuables. Everything had to be handed over to the authorities, under penalty of death. […]
Three days later, a new decree: every Jew had to wear the yellow star. (-72)
In 1944, in the village of Sighet, Romania, twelve-year-old Elie Wiesel spends much time and emotion on the Talmud and on Jewish mysticism. His instructor, Moshe the Beadle, returns from a near-death experience and warns that Nazi aggressors will soon threaten the serenity of their lives. However, even when anti-Semitic measures force the Sighet Jews into supervised ghettos, Elie's family remains calm and compliant. In spring, authorities begin shipping trainloads of Jews to the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex. Elie's family is part of the final convoy. In a cattle car, eighty villagers can scarcely move and have to survive on minimal food and water. One of the deportees, Madame Schächter, becomes hysterical with visions of flames and furnaces.
The German forces are so adept at breaking the spirits of the Jews that we can see the effects throughout Elie's novel. Elie's faith in God, above all other things, is strong at the onset of the novel, but grows weaker as it goes on. We see this when Elie's father politely asks the gypsy where the washrooms are. Not only does the gypsy not offer his father a response, but he also delivers a blow to his head that sent him to the floor. Elie watches the entire act, but doesn't even blink. He realizes that nothing, not even his faith in God, can save him from the physical punishment that would await him if he tried to fight back against the gypsy. If the gypsy's attack had come just one day earlier, Elie probably would have struck back. However, the effect of the spiritual beating by the Germans was already being felt.