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On a Sunday, the air-raid sirens go off. Everyone was confined inside their blocks, and guards were ordered to shoot prisoners who were outside on sight. In the turmoil of the air raid, two cauldrons of soup are left outside on a path. The prisoners long for the soup but are terrified to leave the barracks. Hundreds of men watch as a single man crawls to the soup, thrusts his head into the liquid, and then dies.
The spectacle of the dying man crawling to reach the two cauldrons of soup is perhaps one of the most haunting images of the entire novel. It emphasizes how stripped of personality the prisoners were and how obsessively fixated they were on food and simple survival. Treated barbarously by the Nazis and severely undernourished, the prisoners have become hungry animals intent only on acquiring more food. For the dying man, reaching the cauldrons of soup represents a supreme accomplishment, and he musters up all of his energy just to reach his goal. It is tragic and very disturbing that the Nazis succeeded in reducing human beings to that base level of existence.