Review | This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and GentlemenThis Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stories from a concentration camp survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau. This riveting, brutal inside account, beautifully written by Polish poet and journalist Tadeusz Borowski, has become a masterwork of world literature. Borowski, not a Jew, was a political prisoner. He tells the stories of being forced clean out the box cars of dead babies after the new arrivals were separated in two lines … those going to slave labor, those going to the gas chambers … and later was put to work in a Nazi medical experiment hospital.

My daughter is a college student studying the Holocaust. She left this book at home and I picked it up. The stories are horrific, but they also give you an insight on how people can brutalize others and desensitize themselves to that brutality. The Germans wanted their prisoners to feel less than human, but in these concentration camps everyone became less than human. You had to be resilient to survive, but also, probably more so, lucky. Most people died from illness or starvation or being worked to death. Mr. Borowski was put to work and in the end he survived the camp, when he walked out alive, but he did not survive the injustice of the world, jumping from the frying pan into the fire with another thoughtless political system in Poland that eventually led him to end his own life.

What would the world have gained beyond this book from Mr. Borowski, if he was allowed to live free?

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