Wiesel and his family were in Hungary, so they weren’t exiled to the concentration camps until 1944, when rumors of Germany’s defeat were already whispering the question of “when?” and not “if?”. However, the Nazis were too thorough and efficient to let the Jews in Sighet to go without suffering. First, there were just soldiers moving into the city, then there were curfews, then they were forbidden to worship at the synogogues, then they were forced into ghettos, and then finally they were deported to Auschwitz.
The next year and a half of Wiesel’s life was a story of horror, desperation, and suffering. There is no reason to go into detail. Fortunately for Wiesel, he spent most of his time in the relative “paradise” of a sub-camp of Auschwitz, called Buna, and he had not been separated from his father. But as the Eastern front approached Buna, they were evacuated, and Wiesel was forced on a truly horrific migration in the dead of winter, where 100 bodies would enter a cattlecar but only a dozen would stumble out. By the end, sons had turned against fathers, sometimes beating them just to steal a scrap a bread, and the faith of many men had been shattered.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
He was only fifteen.