the number he recites is not his. he doesn’t know whose number it is. he can’t even remember what his own number is, but he knows it isn’t this one. he just repeats it mindlessly to himself over and over and over again, and for some reason he can keep a hold of his sanity and most of his memory.
it hits him suddenly. his own number, and as he dazedly mumbles it to himself he feels strong hands wrenching at the straps and a frantic voice saying his name, and he realizes the number that kept him sane wasn’t an identifying number for a soldier, it was a birthdate, and just as suddenly he recognizes the voice and the hands and-