Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die discussion

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
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Specific List Books > This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

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message 1: by Erik (new)

Erik I just found this book while looking through the list. I read this for one of my classes in my lit anthology, but it was only like four or five pages? Did I read the whole book? Or is this a collection of short stories? And, if so, whyyy isn't Dubliners on the list?!


message 2: by El (new)

El Maybe the Dubliners isn't as good? :) I haven't read either yet, but I'm not a fan of Joyce.


message 3: by Sophia (new)

Sophia | 26 comments This way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman is the title of a series of short stories, but one of the stories is also so named. The anthology probably contained just the one story with the title. The joys of wikipedia!


message 4: by Erik (new)

Erik I love me some Wikipedia! It seems weird that Joyce's most... coherent? work isn't on there if there are other books of short stories? I dunno, though


message 5: by Jen (new)

Jen | 10 comments This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen definitely is a book. I have had to read it twice for some European History classes. I really recommend it. Heads up though, it is a little gruesome (not the exact word I am looking for but it works) the whole book takes place during WWII at a concentration camp.


Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly (joselitohonestlyandbrilliantly) | 372 comments Gruesome, indeed.
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. Women with young children go straight to the gas chambers. One woman was running away from a young child who was calling after her: "Mama, Mama, don't leave me!" She was saying, he's not my child, he's not my child--aware that she may have a chance of being spared from the gas chamber if she's not burdened with a child. A German saw her and expressed disgust, called her a Jewess witch or something for abandoning her own child. He then put both of them in the truck with those to be gassed.

These were just a few of the stories within the stories in this volume.

Tadeusz Borowski (TB) was born of Polish parents in Ukraine in 1922. When the second world war broke out, the family had been living in Warsaw, Poland. He was then just almost 17 years old.

During the German occupation of Poland secondary school and college were prohibited. TB studied in an underground school. His first book of poetry was published in 1942 clandestinely.

His fiancee was first arrested, then himself. He was imprisoned in Auschwitz and Dachau from 1943 to 1945. This book is actually a compilation of short stories he wrote immediately after the war, when he was about 24 years old. These were true accounts of his experiences in these death camps and were highly acclaimed in Polish literary circles. TB died in the evening of 1 July 1951, three days after his wife (his former fiancee who had also survived the concentration camps) gave birth to their daughter. He gassed himself. He was just about to turn 30.

How are these stories different from the holocaust stories I've read before? Not being a Jew, and technically an Aryan, TB was treated a little bit differently from most of the victims of this genocide, most of whom had gone stright to the gas chambers the minute they arrive at the concentration camps. For one, he didn't seem to have suffered from hunger that much. Over breakfast, for example, he and his colleagues would discuss past shipments like they were Customs people discussing ships laden with imported goods from all over the world. They would say, for example, that the shipment (of people to be gassed) from this or that place was good because they were able to confiscate a lot of food, or whiskey, from the passengers. Or that this shipment from another place was the worst because they saw a lot of friends, relatives or acquiantances there.

In one scene, the Germans executed a group of captured Russian soldiers. One German soldier for each, gun aimed at the head close range. Bam, bam, bam! Then the Germans leave. The concentration camp prisoners descend upon the dead Russian soldiers. For their clothes? No. For their shoes perhaps? Think again. For the soldiers' BRAINS scattered on the ground. They ate them. They were hungry.

TB survived, but this is more than just a survivor and his stories. The mitigation of his own suffering helped him retain his powers of concentration and observation. He was even aware of his own "cruelty", a cruelty brought about by his helplessness and fear and the instinct to survive.


Chel | 380 comments This is a terrific book and a standard of any literary reading of holocaust literature. Interestingly, among the horror the inmates were still human with human needs of sex, companionship, friendship, bartering and other aspects of human existence. It is an excellent, very memorable, and literary work. The author never recovered and committed suicide.


Anna (lilfox) | 291 comments This is a good book, but should be read willingly. I was forced to read fragments of the book in high school / secondary school and I think that people should encourged to read it, not forced.


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