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This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
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1001 book reviews > This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski

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message 1: by Diane (last edited Dec 02, 2018 08:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane | 1996 comments Rating: 4 stars

This is a very tough read, due to subject matter. It is a collection of powerful, well-written stories that are told by a common narrator and focus on the atrocities of life in concentration camps during the Holocaust. The stories are based upon the author's own experiences and were written shortly after the war and initially not well-received. It is interesting to note that the author committed suicide at the age of 28 by gassing himself.

The stories focused more on the actions taken by the characters and remained detached from their emotions. There is no sugar-coating here, it is harsh and straight to the point. We see the dark side of lives that are stripped of their dignity and morals. We see the lengths people will go to in order to survive, even at the detriment of their fellow inmates. We also see the hierarchy of prisoners within the camps. The narrator, much like the author, was not a Jew, and lived a more "privileged" existence than many of the other prisoners.

Overall, a very, very difficult book to read, but an important one. It takes a different approach to life in the concentration camps than most Holocaust literature and memoirs.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments 5 stars

This is one of the most powerful books I have read, and because of that it is hard to take. I read one story a day because my heart couldn't take any more than that. But I loved it nonetheless.

The first two sentences of the first story were probably the most telling, and most brilliant, starting lines I have read. They will stay with me forever.

All of us walked around naked. The delousing is finally over, and our striped suits are back from the tanks of Cyclone B solution, an efficient killer of lice in clothing and of men in gas chambers.


Kristel (kristelh) | 3895 comments Mod
Read 2013
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski
Translated by Barbara Vedder
selected and translated by Barbara Vedder
Published 1959
rating: ★★★★
Pages: 180.

These are short stories inspired by the author's experience in a concentration camp. Mr Borowski is Polish. He is not Jewish. He was in Auschwitz and Dachau for the final few years from 1943 to 1945. He worked there and had it better (a relative term) than the Jewish people who came to Auschwitz. He committed suicide in 1951. Borowski actually ended up arrested because of his girlfriend and that is why he ended up in a concentration camp. He was not a member of a diversive group. He had only gone to the place where he was arrested to check on his girlfriend.
Here are some elements in these short stories:
pg 115 For a day may come when it will be up to us to give an account of the fraud and mockery to the living--to speak up for the dead.
you are not likely to trip if you stand on the shoulders of men who have influence
pg 121 hope (good and bad) the harm of hope.

Reading these stories opens up your eyes to the horror of captivity and slavery. This experience would be psychologically damaging. The fact that the author committed suicide is not a surprise after reading these short descriptive stories of the author's experience.


Diane Zwang | 1206 comments Mod
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski
5 stars

Although a work of fiction, the author was imprisoned in Auschwitz and Dachau from 1943-1945. I have been to Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany and hope to make it to Poland and Auschwitz someday.

From the book jacket: “Published in Poland after World War II, this collection of concentration camp stories shows atrocious war crimes becoming an unremarkable part of a daily routine.”

The start of the book really sets the tone, “All of us walk around naked. The delousing is finally over, and our striped suits are back from the tanks of Cyclone B solution, an efficient killer of lice in clothing and of men in gas chambers.” The first story; This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, had the most impact on me. “We climb inside. In the corners amid human excrement and abandoned wrist-watches lie squashed, trampled infants, naked little monsters with enormous heads and bloated bellies. We carry them out like chickens, holding several in each hand.” This is a statement of someone who has seen many atrocities. This book is about the “inhumanity of man”.

“Listen, doctor, here in Auschwitz we must entertain ourselves in every way we can. Otherwise, who could stand it?”

“But this is a monstrous lie, a grotesque lie, like the whole camp, like the whole world.”

I enjoyed the introduction by Jan Kott. He tried to put the pieces together of what happened to the author after the war.


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