"Don’t worry, son. Go to sleep. I’ll watch over you."
"You first, Father. Sleep."
He refused. I stretched out and tried to sleep, to doze a little, but in vain. God knows what I would have given to be able to sleep a few moments. Bet deep inside, I knew that to sleep meant to die. And something in me rebelled against that death. Death, which was settling in all around me, silently, gently. It would seize upon a sleeping person, steal into him and devour him bit by bit. Next to me, someone was trying to awaken his neighbor, his brother, perhaps, or his comrade. In vain. Defeated, he lay down too, next to the corpse, and also fell asleep. Who would wake him up? Reaching out with my arm, I touched him:
"Wake up. One mustn’t fall asleep here …"
He half opened his eyes.
"No advice," he said, his voice a whisper. "I’m exhausted. Mind your business, leave me alone."
My father too was gently dozing. I couldn’t see his eyes. His cap was covering his face.
"Wake up," I whispered in his ear.
He awoke with a start. He sat up, bewildered, stunned, like an orphan. He looked al around him, talking it all in as if he had suddenly decided to make an inventory of his universe, to determine where he was and how and why he was there. Then he smiled.
I shall always remember that smile. What world did it come from?
Heavy snow continued to fall over the corpses. (6.43-53)
In the concentration camp, there is more than one kind of death: there are the violent deaths in the flames of the crematorium, but also the silent deaths, giving in to cold, bodily weakness, and sleep. Eliezer and his father, like his neighbors, are in serious danger of giving in to peaceful sleep and never waking up.