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Both characterization and conflict contribute to dehumanization because we get to know Elie and his father before they get to any of the camps. We get to know Elie in particular as a devout and intelligent boy. He really wants to believe God has not forsaken him or his people. The Nazis slowly strip both Elie and his people of everything, the last casualty being hope. Even Elie's faith is stripped to the very last thread. Essentially this is the dehumanization that takes place. It isn't starving, working, beating or even killing the prisoners which is the worst. It is rendering Elie and others to a state where hope is lost and they just don't care.