This story begins in war-torn Poland with a Jewish family. This incredibly sad, yet gripping memoir takes Elie, his father, mother, and younger sister on a nightmare ride on a cattle car into one of the most famous concentration camps, Aushwiz-Birkenau. Sadly, Elie and his father are separated from his mother and sister forever as the women were sent to the crematory. Elie would never see his mother and sister alive again.
Stipped, shaved, showered and treated like animals, Elie and his father work at this camp. Elie quickly finds that his once strong faith in God is changed. He cannot understand the suffering and inhumanity. He lacks for proper food and nutrition and sees atrocities he will never forget, including public hangings. Strangely, he finds himself praying to a God he no longer believes in.
Elie's foot becomes infected and he is hopsitalized. He is worried that the doctor may amputate but when he wakes up he is reassured that he is still whole.
It is rumoured that the Red Army is on its way. Concerned that the Germans may kill their prisoners, Elie and his father opt to travel away from camp. Later Elie learns that all prisoners were left safely there and soon liberated by the Russian Army.
Elie loses his father in this incredible battle. Scared by his own feelings, Elie finds himself somewhat relieved with his father's death. He will never forgive himself for those moments. Elie's battle was not only with the enemy but within himself. Like the title implies, this experience for Elie is a long and dark one that changes him forever.