77 pages 2 hours read

Alan Gratz

Prisoner B-3087

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2013

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Chapters 16-20Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 5: “Birkenau Concentration Camp 1944-1945”-Part 6: “Auschwitz Concentration Camp 1945”

Chapter 16 Summary

Yanek and the other prisoners get off the train at Birkenau. Yanek expects to die and notes, “reality began to sink in, and I slumped under its weight. They were really going to kill us” (126). He wishes he had died in the ghetto rather than enduring so much suffering only to die at Birkenau. He and the other prisoners are forced into a room with showerheads. Yanek believes that it’s a gas chamber and waits to die. He begins crying when he realizes that water, not gas, is coming out of the showerheads. The prisoners “celebrated as [they] shivered” (129), realizing their lives have been spared.

Chapter 17 Summary

Yanek feels determined to survive yet apathetic after the shower incident. He realizes that his life and the lives of the prisoners are “a game to the Nazis—kill us, don’t kill us, to them it didn’t matter” (130). The Nazi guards forced Yanek and the other prisoners through a line, where their heads are shaved and they’re given tattoos to mark their identity.

Yanek settles into his muddy, cramped bunk and finds a wooden horse that must have been left by a child who died in camp. That night a man asks if anyone will stand for his son’s bar mitzvah.