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When they finally arrive at Gleiwitz, they are crowded into barracks, and Eliezer feels like he is going to be suffocated by the mass of people lying on top of him. People are crushing each other to death because it is so crowded, and Eliezer suddenly finds himself on top of Juliek, a boy who played the violin in the band at Buna. Eliezer is glad that Juliek is still alive and shocked to discover that he brought his violin with him. Then Eliezer begins to be suffocated by a man on top of him and has to fight his way out to get some air. He calls to his father, who is also still alive. That night Juliek miraculously extricates himself from the tangle of bodies and begins to play Beethoven soulfully on his violin. The music is so pure amidst the silence of the night, and Juliek puts his whole self and being into his music, which is only heard by an audience of dead and dying men.
The image of Juliek playing the violin in the crowded barracks is the most beautiful one in the entire novel. Throughout the novel, Eliezer comments on how silent the barracks generally are at night, but this silence is one of terror, nightmares, and desperate exhaustion. As noted earlier, silence is one of the main themes of the novel, and sounds that break the silence, such as Madame Schaechter's hysterical screaming, prove very noticeable. Similarly, Juliek's violin-playing disrupts the silence, this time filling the night with rare beauty and poignancy: "He played a fragment from Beethoven's concerto. I had never heard sounds so pure. In such a silence." Juliek's music is unusually touching and heartrending because he puts his whole being into his playing. After being denied his life, humanity, and future by the Nazis and after having becoming emotionally numb from his time in the concentration camp, Juliek takes everything that has been denied him and infuses it into his music: "He was playing his life. The whole of his life was gliding on the stringshis lost hopes, his charred past, his extinguished future. He played as he would never play again." The words "charred" and "extinguished" evoke the image of the fiery crematory and emphasize how crudely and barbarously the Nazis destroyed human life in the concentration camps.