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This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  5,792 ratings  ·  391 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 ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 192 pages
Published 1976 by Penguin (first published 1947)
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Manisha Nandy Mazumder 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)

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Paul Bryant

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
...more
Violet wells
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an account of Auschwitz, in the form of a series of first person short stories, from someone who is still begrimed and drenched in its depravity. Because he wrote it so soon after his experience Borowski has managed to put little if any distance between himself and what hes describing. The tone of the book, perfectly captured in its title, is thus deeply disturbing. In fact it reads like a suicide note.

Concentration camp stories tend to focus on the fortitude and humanity of inmates.
...more
BlackOxford
The Dead Are Always Right

Tadeusz Borowski survived the horrors of Auschwitz, some of which are described in these stories, only to commit suicide. Despair is not an adequate explanation for such an act by a man who had experienced what he had. Neither, for me, is any other purely emotional reason.

So I have spent the better part of the last three days thinking and writing in an attempt to understand the rationale, the redeeming purpose perhaps, of his suicide. Surely, I surmised, his death, as
...more
Steven Godin
"Great columns of smoke rise from the crematoria and merge above into a huge black river which very slowly floats across the sky over Birkenau and disappears beyond the forests."

Naked, famished bodies, with sunken faces and deathly eyes, congregate on their wooden bunks.
Drenched in sweat from an unbearable heat they munch on stale bread with burning throats as dry as scorched sand. Tadeusz Borowski is one of them.

Outside the cattle carts are arriving, and that can only mean one thing. The
...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
True horror is something that can only be swallowed in sips, lest we drown in its sorrow. You need to read these 150 pages. You, whomever you are. You will feel like the luckiest guy or gal ever after reading it, for you are alive and free and not being forced to do unforgiveable things.

The 20-something author, husband, and father-for-three days was once a poet and aspiring writer. As a Polish teenager, he was arrested and taken to work as a slave laborer at Auschwitz and Birkenau. At gunpoint,
...more
Agnieszka
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. Borowskis prose, full of sharp and dispassionate descriptions, is so brutal and harsh, such dense that you barely can breath. At the same time Borowskis 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 narrator
...more
Carol
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book, holocaust
Disturbing in the same way that the foreign film, "Son of Saul" was for me. It was unbearable to read more than a chapter or two at one time. The blurb on my book jacket conveys my thoughts perfectly.

"...This collection of concentration camp stories shows atrocious war crimes becoming an unremarkable part of a daily routine. Prisoners eat, work, sleep, and fall in love a few yards from where other prisoners are systematically slaughtered. The will to survive overrides compassion, and the line
...more
Leah
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 ...more
Greta
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
...more
Edward
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Translator's Note
Introduction


--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
--Silence
--The January Offensive
--A Visit
--The World of Stone
Ben Winch
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 dont get a choice about coming to the ...more
Jo
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
"This way for the gas ladies and gentlemen" is a book that I'd been wanting to read for a while. When a book is described as difficult reading, I feel like I have some kind of duty to read this book. We will never truly know what these people suffered in those inhumane conditions but we can pick up the writing that they left us, so we may learn from that and ensure that nothing like that ever happens again.
Not all the stories engaged me on the same level, but either way, I do think that the
...more
[P]
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Ned
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Told from the vantage of a very young, Polish, political prisoner, this one was unique. Having read a fair bit of holocaust literature, what separates this is that it has no Jewish point of view at all, and does not decry the evils of the Nazi targeting this genocide. The other unusual feature of this story is that it was written shortly after the events themselves. Without the benefit of hindsight and perspective, the entire context is missing from this narrative. In fact, the horrors are ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
This book is so powerful it can make you vomit while reading.

This a holocaust book. I have read so many of these but this one is the most brutal in terms of vividly describing the scenes in the concentration camp - Auschwitz. I would not say that this is bereft of the haunting prose of say W. G. Sebald's "Austerlitz", the intriguing thesis of Viktor E. Frankl's "The Man's Search for Meaning" or the palpable honesty of Elie Wiesel's "Night". (Note: the most popular Holocaust book by Anne Frank,
...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
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
...more
Anne
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
Diane Barnes
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Impossible to do justice to this book in a review. A slim volume of 180 pages that takes a while to read because of the horror of Auschwitz, conveyed in such simple language that gives a sense of trying to survive under the constant smoke and ash from the ovens. Not an easy read, but it is not fiction. Written by a survivor who committed suicide in 1951.
Antonomasia
Mostly skimmed, over the course of two or three hours, because it was either that or never reading it.

I'd always been scared of this book, but, catching up on classic Polish literature (albeit books not about the war whenever possible), the book's brevity, and Borowski's place as one of the author case studies in The Captive Mind made me have a go. I read the introduction a couple of days ago - I like introductions in their own right - and figured that actually, I'd been right all along, I
...more
David
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Petra
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Eric
Aug 09, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jon Nakapalau
Into an abyss that engulfs everything a man tries to hold onto the tattered remnants of his humanity. Each day he must fight for every strand that is left and try to bind the courage in his soul to make it through one more day.
Mike
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 dont 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 ...more
Czarny Pies
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone curious about the Nazi Death Camps
Recommended to Czarny by: It was a gift from Marek Dabrowski
Shelves: polish-lit
Tadeusz Borowski contributed articles, stories and poems to underground Polish publications during World War II which caused him to be arrested by the Gestapo in February 1943 and sent to Auschwitz were he spent almost two years before being transferred to Dachau.

Borowski factual seemingly detached point of view can cause the reader to question Borowski's basic humanity. However, in retrospect it appears that Borowski was profoundly traumatized. Initially he took refuge in the belief that the
...more
Neil Strauss
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I began my book Emergency with a quote from this book: There is no crime a man will not commit to save himself. Yet Id never read it. I should have. The book is an anthology of short stories by the Polish poet Tadeusz Borowski, all based on his real-life experiences in Auschwitz, and other Nazi prisons and concentration camps, as a Polish political prisoner. It is unlike anything Ive read before on the subject, because the focus is not so much on the brutality of the SS guards, but on the ...more
Evan
Passage from this book:

"The four of us became involved in a heated discussion...by 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."

...more
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
...more
Christine
Just wow. This should be more widely read than it is.
Mel
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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)
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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.

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