This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen


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Tadeusz Borowski’s concentration camp stories were based on his own experiences surviving Auschwitz and Dachau. In spare, brutal prose he describes a world where where the will to survive overrides compassion and prisoners eat, work and sleep a few yards from where others are murdered; where the difference between human beings is reduced to a second bowl of soup, an extra blanket or the luxury of a pair of shoes with thick soles; and where the line between normality and abnormality vanishes. Published in Poland after the Second World War, these stories constitute a masterwork of world literature.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140186246
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/01/1992
Series: Penguin Modern Classics Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 152,041
Product dimensions: 5.05(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.51(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Tadeusz Borowski was born in the Ukraine to Polish parents and was imprisoned in Auschwitz and Dachau from 1943 to 1945. Considered a great of postwar Polish literature, he attended a boarding schoool run by Franciscan monks and then studied literature in the underground Warsaw University—during the German occupation secondary school and college were forbidden to Poles. He was arrested in April 1943 and was held in the Pawiak prison, Auschwitz, Dautmergen-Natzweiler, and finally the Dachau-Allach camp, which was liberated by the US Army in May 1945.While much of his prewar work was comprised of poetry, his subsequent works detailing life in concentration camps were written in prose. His most famous work, a series of short stories called Farewell to Maria, was given the English title This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman. Borowski committed suicide in 1951, at the age of 28.

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This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
pajaro More than 1 year ago
There is a spare simple honesty about Tadeusz Borowski's fictionalized account of his experiences in Auschwitz and Dachau - so much so that it almost seems false to use the same language while recommending it to others. There is nothing I can say that will adequately recreate the intensity Borowski achieves without resorting to hyperbolic extremes, which would actually diminish, rather than augment, his effectiveness. His stories need neither critique, sanction, nor acclaim. What I can say about this collection is that I had an immediate visceral reaction to the events and descriptions of the first story - This Way for the Gas - and though some of that wore off as I continued, it was replaced with an increasingly uncomfortable feeling that what I think I know about myself and the world is, instead, only what I'm willing to believe. Borowski's account of 'normal' behavior in the camps - a direct result of the insane horror of the conditions - is a frightening addition to the crematoriums and the gas chambers. Not only were there the perpetrators of evil and their victims, but there was a third group, victims yet forced to be complicit too. That they could develop a routine, in the midst of the horrors they witnessed and the actions required for their survival, is elementally disturbing, and does not release any human being from its conclusions. Once or twice, I had some small trouble following the thread of a story, but this in no way altered the impact of his overall objective. Borowski's style is plain, simple and direct - and admirable. 'This Way for the Gas' is a literature of truth and courage, and unafraid to voice its implications, however hard they may be to hear. Highest recommendation.
David_Cain on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Easily the most disturbing work of fiction I have ever read, this collection of stories creates a tapestry of evil woven from the most human of all threads, the voice and reflected voices of the victims. It is empowering to hear the groans of humanity rise above the horrors of inhumanity, even while it is crushing to endure the stifling of the all-too-human characters. I could not, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone, for it is an emotionally wrenching read, and yet I recommend this book to everyone for it captures the truth of our lives. We, as people, can adapt to any situation and retain the poetic beauty of our souls.
soylentgreen23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What I think has guaranteed 'This Way for the Gas' its lasting appeal, so to speak, is the way in which Borowski does not dignify his characters, since there was no dignity in the concentration camps to begin with. In a way, each of these short stories is stunning in the most literal sense, with descriptions of brutality and inhumanity that rub shoulders with the mundane and banality of life in a camp; one cannot escape the feeling of otherworldliness and beastliness that is all pervasive.
arubabookwoman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
These are a series of interconnected stories/vignettes inspired by the author's experiences in Auschwitz and Dachau. He was an intellectual, radical activist when he was arrested and sent to Auschwitz, where he arrived only a few short weeks after the Nazis instituted the policy to spare Aryans from the gas chambers. Taudeusz wrote that when a writer writes of his camp experiences, "the reader will unfailingly ask, But how did it happen that you survived? Tell then, how you bought places in the hospital, easy posts, how you moved the 'Moslems' {prisoners who had lost the will to live} into the oven, how you bought women, men, what you did in the barracks, unloading the transports, at the gypsy camp; tell about the daily life of the camp, about the hierarchy of fear, about the loneliness of every man. But write that you, you were the ones who did this, that a portion of the sad shame of Auschwitz belongs to you as well."And this is the perspective that Taudeusz brings to the story of the Holocaust--the "in-between": one who perpetrates evil, even as evil is perpetrated upon him, one who is imprisoned, even as he imprisons others. The stories, all narrated in the first person, are told in a matter-of-fact, detached way, in which the worst evils are simply "routine." One of the most chilling stories for me was the description of a soccer game among the prisoners in which the goalie, noticing first the line of people at the chambers, and then its disappearance, notes: "Between two throw-ins a soccer game, right behind my back, three thousand people had been put to death."Tadeusz committed suicide in 1951, before he was 30, and three days after the birth of his daughter.
michalsuz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Devastating, the most precise description of concentration camp life, and the hardest book to read. Describes the loss of human qualities, the turning into an animal that just wants to live.
roblong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A collection of short stories set in Auschwitz and the period shortly after the war. Borowski was a Pole (non-Jewish) who was interned in Auschwitz and Dachau, and the stories are plainly fictionalised versions of real events. His style is very direct and unembellished, but he uses it to provide a broader vision and significance to what happened. It is brutal, not just in what was done to the Nazis' victims but what it made them into. The narrator laughs at an old man hurrying up, responding to an SS officer's chiding, after taking a toilet break in a ditch, because all he is hurrying for is the gas chamber; he gets into amiable conversation with a Sonderkommando who claims do have done nothing much recently, just gassed up a Czech transport. There are no heroes in the camp, and he gets across how many of the survivors could only survive by making sure that they were the ones with the good jobs and rations, and frequently by giving another man a shove in the direction of the gas chamber to avoid going themselves. As bleak as it sounds, but a great book. The title story, about the arrival of a transport, and a series of letters from a prisoner to his fiancee in the adjacent women's camp (as Borowski's girlfriend was), are as good as anything I've read.
denniswilliams on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is another book that narates man's proclivity to cruelty. The Nazi party came to power in a country that represented the best of western culture and proceeded to destroy this culture. Yet, it is not the Third Reich alone that stains mankind. Genocide in Armenia, the barbarities of Stalin and Mao and recently in the Balkans, are but examples. There is a stain on man's nature, on his soul. Our behavior comes from our soul.
Lonsing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The introduction to this book says it gives no comfort, no pity and no hope. That pretty much sums it up. The first essay is the best. It is not enjoyable to read, rather it is sickening to the core, but I believe, it is a book that should be read.
heidilove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this in 1989 and loved it. It inspired me to read other works, and fits well in the existential catagory.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Borowski, a Polish Christian survivor of Auschwitz, gives a devastating account of life in the Nazi concentration camp. From his stories of survival and man's inhuman treatment of his fellow man, we get a much more complete perspective of the many victims of the Nazi holocaust than is usually presented.