Study Guide

Night Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

  • Packed inside cattle trains, the Jews of Sighet are on their way to an unknown destination. They are crammed together so tightly, it’s impossible to lie down and they can only sit by taking turns.
  • Still, young people somehow manage to find a way to "caress" each other.
  • Two days pass and so does the Hungarian border. The Jews are not staying in their country after all, and in fact they are now under German jurisdiction.
  • German officers inform them that there are eighty people in the cattle car. If anybody goes missing, they will all be shot—"like dogs."
  • In the middle of the night, a woman, Mrs. Schächter, begins to moan, cry, and scream because she has been separated from her husband. At last, she begins to scream that she sees fire, a terrible fire.
  • People try to calm her but she will not be calmed. She tells them she sees a terrible furnace.
  • The Jews in the cattle car try to explain Mrs. Schächter’s vision away—she must be thirsty, they say.
  • At long last, people get fed up and they start to beat her with blows strong enough to kill her.
  • The next night, though, she begins to scream again about the fire.
  • The train stops somewhere for a little while. Two men go for water and come back with news that they’re at Auschwitz, where life is apparently pretty good. Everyone rejoices.
  • But that night, Mrs. Schächter begins to scream again, and again she’s beaten. At long last she is silent.
  • The train continues to move. Suddenly Mrs. Schächter screams again. This time, through the windows, everyone can see the crematoria smokestacks. Fire. The smell of burning bodies.
  • The Jews get out (read: are beaten and forced out), only to encounter those smokestacks, that smell, in front of them.
  • They have arrived in Birkenau. (Note that Birkenau is adjacent to Auschwitz and sometimes called Auschwitz-Birkenau).

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