How we cite our quotes:
"Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you." For the first time, his voice quivered. "In a few moments, selection will take place. You will have to undress completely. Then you will go, one by one, before the SS doctors. I hope you will all pass. But you must try to increase your chances. Before you go into the next room, try to move your limbs, give yourself some color. Don’t walk slowly, run! Run as if you had the devil at your heels! Don’t look at the SS. Run, straight in front of you!" (5.41)
Life or death is based on whether or not the SS doctors see the prisoners as physically fit enough to continue to be useful workers. In the quote, the block leader gives prisoners advice on how to pass selection, showing that it is truly based on perceived physical fitness.
I soon forgot him. I began to think of myself again. My foot was aching, I shivered with every step. Just a few more meters and it will be over. I’ll fall. A small red flame … A shot … Death enveloped me, it suffocated me. It stuck to me like glue. I felt I could touch it. The idea of dying, of ceasing to be, began to fascinate me. To no longer exist. To no longer feel the excruciating pain of my foot. To no longer feel anything, neither fatigue, nor cold, nothing. To break rank, to let myself slide to the side of the road … (6.17)
Eliezer’s body is in so much pain that death begins to sound appealing as an escape from suffering.
We were outside. The icy wind whipped my face. I was constantly biting my lips so that they wouldn’t freeze. All around me, what appeared to be a dance of death. My head was reeling. I was walking through a cemetery. Among the stiffened corpses, there were logs of wood. Not a sound of distress, not a plaintive cry, nothing but mass agony and silence. Nobody asked anyone for help. One died because one had to. No point in making trouble.
I saw myself in every stiffened corpse. Soon I wouldn’t even be seeing them anymore; I would be one of them. A matter of hours. (6.37-38)
Eliezer is literally surrounded by death and realizes his own mortality thoroughly.