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This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  4,853 Ratings  ·  283 Reviews
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 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 blanke ...more
Paperback, 180 pages
Published November 26th 1992 by Penguin Classics (first published 1947)
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Manisha True events. If you have seen the documentaries of History channel on these concentration camps, you will know that what Borowski has written is…moreTrue events. If you have seen the documentaries of History channel on these concentration camps, you will know that what Borowski has written is absolutely true. It seems fantastic and surreal to us because we cannot imagine that someone might have gone through such hardships and torture. But it happened. All survivors of these camps have testified to the stories. Raw footage of these camps are also available. You will have to search the archives of History channel. It is pretty extensive. (less)

Community Reviews

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Paul Bryant
Mar 07, 2015 Paul Bryant rated it it was amazing

I found this book very difficult to read. Not like Joyce or Proust or Faulkner, but because – when exactly do you read this? In the evening after a good dinner? No! Well, at bedtime then? Not unless you want nightmares.

I have read a few of these concentration camp memoirs, which, strangely insultingly, are classified as FICTION when they are, of course, the truth. But here, in the concentration camp world, reality reads like fiction, it is true.

Tadeusz Borowski writes with a heavy black humour
Aug 09, 2016 Agnieszka rated it it was amazing

This is not an ordinary book . This Way for the Gas , Ladies and Gentlemen is a report of the man who survived . And this is a horrific testimony . Borowski’s prose , full of sharp and dispassionate descriptions , is so brutal and harsh , such dense that you barely can breath . At the same time Borowski’s writing is marked with strange indifference and some appalling calm while he tells about unimaginable atrocity and inhuman barbarism .

One of the most known stories is the title one when narra
It is difficult, with a moat of sixty years and an intellectual barricade of countless other World War II and Holocaust-related reading, to adequately begin to review this collection of short stories from Tadeusz Borowski. Falling back into the same reiteration of virtually all Holocaust/post-war writings is almost too easy: "This book serves as a reminder of the atrocities of war ...", "this book demonstrates how terrible man can be..." etc, etc, ad infinitum. Ad nauseum. The sorts of blanket r ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Edward rated it it was amazing
Translator's Note

--This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
--A Day at Harmenz
--The People Who Walked On
--Auschwitz, Our Home (A Letter)
--The Death of Schillinger
--The Man with the Package
--The Supper
--A True Story
--The January Offensive
--A Visit
--The World of Stone
Ben Winch
A mental-health episode involving too large a dose of mushrooms sobered me recently when I made a call (my first) to “000”. A dose of sheer panic mixed with latent paranoia convinced me I might die here, in a tiny town in country New South Wales where I “retreat”/housesit and look after the dog. In the aftermath, having bartered (or so it seemed) with two starched-uniformed paramedics for my freedom (“Call if you need us,” they said as they left, “but next time you don’t get a choice about comin ...more
Jul 22, 2015 [P] rated it really liked it
For the last couple of years, since I been trying to quit smoking, I have taken to carrying around with me during the day whatever book I am currently reading, fitting in a few pages during my breaks at work. Often people will peer at the cover, mutter the title to themselves, and then carry on with their own business. The other day a friend of mine came over to the table at which I was sitting, picked up This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, turned it over, read the title and winced. I th ...more
Aug 09, 2007 Eric rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who denies or ignores Mankind's evil nature
A book to test your fortitude. If you can read more than one story at once, your capacity for the banality of human injustice and horror is great indeed. The only hope to be found in reading this collection of short stories is in the knowledge that the author survived to tell them.

The 5-star rating system is ridiculously inadequate for a book like this--perhaps for all books. Did I 'like' it? Did I 'enjoy' reading it? No. But I could not put it out of my mind. There are passages so terrible that
Dhanaraj Rajan
Sep 05, 2014 Dhanaraj Rajan rated it it was amazing
There are many ways I could write a review for this book. But I limit myself to some basic observations and recommend it highly to each and everyone who has not yet read it.

As I read the book (a collection of concentration camp stories) I was remembered of another book that I had read earlier. That is Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz. Primo Levi had originally titled it as: IF THIS WERE THE MAN. The similarities in both the books are very many.

Both of them were the concentration camp prisoners
Sep 13, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
These semi-autobiographical stories are incredibly difficult to read; the mind, at least the sane mind, jerks backward from them like a panicked, rearing horse. The book should be read not only because the writing is superb, but because I don’t know of any other way to stand with the victims other than by reading about them, in this book and others, and forcing myself to see them as wide-eyed as I can, something I feel compelled to do, even if such make-believe solidarity is futile and of no ben ...more
Sep 25, 2013 Petra rated it it was amazing
Borowski's experiences are horrendous. His writing is superb. With few words and little emotion he manages to bring the horror of the concentration camp experience into these pages. His writing style, detached, shows how man had to separate himself in order to live day to day under these horrific conditions.
Throughout, I thought I could feel his guilt for having survived. Perhaps I'm reading things into Borowski's words. He sounds so haunted.
This is probably as close as we can get to finding o
This was really good! probably my favourite piece of Holocaust literature I've ever read. I loved the way it was told and the way Borowski wrote and I do like the translation as well.
It taught me things I didn't know and showed me a different sort of experience of the Holocaust.
Out of all the really well known Holocaust literature, this is the one I recommend the most.

Around The Year in 52 Books Challenge #45 - A book related to a hobby or passion(I study the Holocaust)
Aug 24, 2011 Anne rated it it was amazing
This book made me feel and understand the horrors of Auschwitz like no other book I've read. Borowski is able to make the reader feel how very mundane and acceptable killing and torture became to the inmates. He uses a mix of humor and stark, in-your-face descriptions in relating his stories of camp life and of the atrocities. This puts the reader in the position of smiling at and cringing at one and the same time. For instance, Inmates playing a soccer game are having a good time, but don't bat ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The trains would arrive and efficiently emptied of their human cargo. Those who will be left behind are the dead and those too weak to move. Among the dead would be children, many of them practically just babies, who died of hunger, suffocation, or who had been trampled upon. Some are bloated already, having died several days before. They will pick them up, by their feet, several in one hand like they were carrying dead chickens.

A few of those unloaded from the trains knew their fate already. Wo
Passage from this book:

"The four of us became involved in a heated maintaining that in this war morality, national solidarity, patriotism and the ideals of freedom, justice and human dignity had all slid off man like a rotten rag. We said that there is no crime that a man will not commit in order to save himself. And, having saved himself, he will commit crimes for increasingly trivial reasons; he will commit them first out of duty, then from habit, and finally---for pleasure."

Jan 14, 2010 David rated it it was amazing
Suffering is not ennobling: it is just suffering. Genocide does not martyr people: it just kills them. There was no triumph to dying in the camps. The victims of the Holocaust were not just tortured and dehumanized, but often demoralized into shocking behavior. This book will denies the reader the comforting fallacy of a world in black and white, a world made up of evil people and good ones. A “fortunate” non-Jew, Borowski was arrested and spent two years as a prisoner and orderly in Auschwitz, ...more
Mar 20, 2014 Zadignose rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 20th-century
How do you write about the Holocaust? Well, Borowski elects one radical approach: just tell what happened.

That doesn't mean that this isn't fiction, or that the author is not making a point with what he chooses to relate in each story. But the ingredients of his stories are real concentration camp events, and they are presented with a dry, sometimes jaded reportage style, even though they all have an "I" in the midst of them. The stories are painful, not only because of the portrayal of atrociti
Mar 23, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
I was taken back to the 6th grade when I went to a Holocaust Convention. Yes. A convention. That was one advantage of growing up in Las Vegas. It gets better I know. A Holocaust Convention in Las Vegas. But there it was. There I was was, one of the lucky few to be picked from my 6th grade class. The bus took us and dropped us off. I don't even remember a teacher being present. We/I fended for myself. I wandered around, looked at horrific pictures . Sat is various...lectures; I guess. For lunch I ...more
This collection of short stories by Tadeusz Borowski, a concentration camp survivor who later committed suicide, is one of the most beautifully written accounts of survival in Auschwitz while Poland was under Nazi occupation. Highly recommended.
Jul 03, 2009 IWB rated it it was amazing
This is Holocaust literature-- very good Holocaust literature. It is Holocaust literature devoid of pontification, sentimentalism, and examination. There are no rhetorical questions about ethics, human nature, and the problem of evil. Instead, there are just frank descriptions about the banality of witnessing daily mass murders, the apathy toward the pitiful cries of victims, and the tedium of stealing food, bribing guards, and being annoyed by other inmates.

This is a collection of short storie
Aaron Wolfson
In another world, if Borowski had completely made up these stories, we would call him a darkly mad genius, one of the most creative fiction writers of the 20th century. But no: these stories are all too real.

Tadeusz Borowski was born in 1922. In 1943, he was sent to Auschwitz. In 1945, he was liberated at Dachau. He killed himself in 1951 -- he opened a gas valve.

These stories are based on Borowski's experiences, and they are among the most haunting testaments ever recorded to human cruelty. It
Just wow. This should be more widely read than it is.
I feel like I'm missing something here. This is apparently considered to be one of the most moving accounts of the Holocaust, but I honestly found it rather unimpressive. It wasn't because of lack of drama-- Primo Levi told his Holocaust stories through banal detail and it was remarkably effective. I think Borowski did his best to tell his stories in a straightforward manner, without reflecting on them too much, hoping that his details would show the absurdity of the situation in which he found ...more
Apr 26, 2016 Greta rated it really liked it
This one is difficult to rate. Not all the stories did engage me on a same level.
I would definitely give a 5 for the title story. It's a unique testimony about prisoners unloading an incoming Transport. It's powerful and haunting :
"The bolts crack, the doors fall open. A wave of fresh air rushes inside the train. People...inhumanly crammed, buried under incredible heaps of luggage, suitcases, trunks, packages, crates, bundles of every description (everything that had been their past and was to
How does one rate & review a book like this? I had to create a whole new GR bookshelf called "nightmare fuel" to accommodate this one. In lieu of the creative string of expletives I WAS going to use to attempt my review, I'll take a hint from my recent Dante review and post Hieronymus Bosch instead. A picture is worth a thousand swear words, after all.

H. Bosch

The strange thing about reading a this very graphic--yet still somehow poetic--book of the Holocaust immediately after The Divine Comedy is th
Pete daPixie
May 21, 2013 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it
With a subject matter such as the holocaust, I don't find it easy to review Tadeusz Borowski's 'This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen'. A Penquin Classic that is categorised as a work of fiction is undoubtably written from horrific personal experience. Borowski survived the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau.
In under two hundred pages, Borowski batters the senses with a series of stories of stark inhumanity. 'The sun has leaned low over the horizon and illuminates the ramp with a r
Mar 09, 2011 Sonia rated it liked it
Shelves: have
Rating a book is sometimes a very difficult thing for me. Sometimes I love a book so much that I have no qualms clicking that fifth star and other times I loathe it so much that if giving negative stars were an option, I would. Thankfully those books are few and far between. Most books fall into this middle ground in which you weigh your like of the content and plot against the merits of the actual piece and then factor in the writing to determine a star rating. And I feel like this is where I'm ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Shawn rated it it was ok
Disappointing. For many, I think it is considered unacceptable, rude, or unfeeling to criticize works such as this, the idea being that it is somehow disrespectful of the topic or those millions who were senselessly slaughtered -- especially a body of work that has garnered any acclaim. I must run the risk, however, of having those charges leveled, because if this is a true representation of the best of his work, it is very unimpressive.
Any firsthand account of living through concentration camp
Kristin Pollock
Oct 08, 2016 Kristin Pollock rated it it was amazing
An English professor of mine recommended This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen as part of a list of the "top 10 books to read" that I requested when I graduated college (12 years ago, albeit). Given how difficult it might have been for an English scholar to winnow the list down to just 10, I trusted that this slim volume (under 200 pages) of stories would be special. All the same, it took me 12 years and a family visit to Poland to inspire me to finally read it.

My delay in reading it until
Apr 07, 2016 Cassy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those questioning the why and how of life
Recommended to Cassy by: Browsing at B&N, could use a dose of somber Polish literature
An important and haunting collection of short stories by an Polish author who survived the concentration camps at both Auschwitz and Dachau.

Borowski's work is the most effective from the (admittedly short) list of Holocaust stories I've read.* I remember a specific moment when I came across the word "crematoria." I had never stopped to consider that "crematorium" even had a plural form, and its necessity here saddened me. Indeed, Borowski captured the dilemmas and realities of WWII as Tim O'Bri
Robert Peate
Mar 20, 2015 Robert Peate rated it it was amazing
This is the most horrifying and amazing thing I have ever read. Unlike most Holocaust literature, it lacks self-righteousness. Borowski writes of prisoners doing anything to survive: betraying other prisoners, stealing from them, assisting the Nazis to kill. There is no innocence. At the same time, one cannot blame him for anything he confesses, knowing it is simply a matter of animal survival--hence the horror. That he recorded it without defense or excuse, remembering everything in vivid detai ...more
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English reprint 3 14 Oct 17, 2015 06:05PM  
History is all too often more frightening than the darkest fantasy. 1 4 Oct 07, 2015 08:23PM  
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Tadeusz Borowski was a Polish writer and journalist, and an Auschwitz and Dachau survivor. His books are recognized as classics of Polish post-war literature and had much influence in Central European society.
More about Tadeusz Borowski...

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“What a curious power words have.” 589 likes
“There can be no beauty if it is paid for by human injustice, nor truth that passes over injustice in silence, nor moral virtue that condones it.” 30 likes
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