The threat of selection for the gas chambers and crematorium is another element of Survival in Auschwitz that shows how the prisoners are no longer men, but mere animals in the death camp. In October of 1944, with the arrival of winter in Poland, the Germans sought to relieve the overcrowding of the camp huts through an atrocious process of selection (124). The method of selection was little more than survival of the fittest, as the Nazis would arbitrarily decide in a very quick review of the naked Jewish prisoners who was still useful and who would be executed (128). As each prisoner made two crossing in front of an SS soldier, his card was handed to one of two aids on either side of the SS man (128). If a prisoner's card went to the left he died, to the right he lived. Through this method the Nazis judged each prisoner like a rancher would cattle being sent to slaughter. Even within this simple scheme, Levi noted there were irregularities, such as a young and robust prisoner named René, whose card was placed on the left (128). Life in Auschwitz was full of inexplicable unfairness and those who survived the selections can be sure that luck played a major role.
The constant competition for food, clothing, and other limited resources lead to much