Identification of stock was and still is important. A rancher would want to keep track of their own animals, to avoid theft and property loss, because a loss in property is a loss in profit. Before plastic ear tags, animals would be branded to burn an identification sequence into their hide. This is similar to what happened to Elie.
“I became A-7713. From then on, I had no name” (Wiesel 42). This number was the only identity he had. The tattoo was not just to distinguish Elie between the other prisoners; it was also for the aesthetic of it. It was a brand, a painful mark that reminds everyone of his status: no longer human. Everything personal had been taken from him. He was no longer his own person, if a person at all.
“So we worked, day after day. We survived. Week after week. The same” (Spiegelman 58) The Germans only had so much use for the Jews. They thought then as worthless, or at least only as much worth as their performance. Jews were workhorses, and neglected ones at that. Prized show horses at least get their tattoos under their lip. These horses in particular were slaves. They were worked to death given only the most basic necessities. They were only given enough to survive. Survive, not