Scrapbookpages Blog

February 9, 2013

Tadeusz Borowski quoted in an article about the UN and Israel

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 12:20 pm

This morning, I read an article here, written by William A. Cook, entitled Neither Justice Nor Morality – Just Impunity From Crimes Against Humanity.  

The article begins with a quote from a book written by Tadeusz Borowski entitled This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen.  The book is a collection of short stories which were first published in 1948 under the title of one of the short stories.

The quote, which William A. Cook used in his article, is from the short story, which is entitled The January Offensive.  This short story begins on page 164 of the book entitled This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen.

The short story that begins on page 164 starts with this quote:

I would like to tell you a short and moral story I heard from a certain Polish poet who during the first autumn after the war came to West Germany, accompanied by his wife and mistress…

In 1944, before the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex was liberated by Soviet soldiers, Borowski had been transported to Dachau; he was liberated by American soldiers at the Allach subcamp of Dachau. Borowski had been a concentration camp prisoner between 1943 and 1945, first at Auschwitz and later at Dachau.  Borowski was a political prisoner; he had been arrested because he was a Communist, who opposed the Nazis.

This quote is from Borowski’s  short story entitled The January Offensive:

After the liberation [of Dachau] we were carefully isolated from the surrounding communities and we vegetated throughout the beautiful, sunny month of May inside the dirty, D.D.T. sprayed barracks of Dachau. [….]

After two months of efforts, so macabre but so humorous that one day they deserve to be described separately, all four of us moved into a little room belonging to the Polish Committee in Munich… [….]

Later, thanks to our concentration camp documents, three of us were able —honestly and legally — to get a comfortable four-room apartment vacated by a Nazi who was temporarily  sent to stay with his relatives and who was told to leave some of his furniture and religious pictures for us.

At that time we longed to emigrate, and all four of us dreamed of nothing else but to escape as soon as possible from the ghetto of Europe to another continent where we could study in peace and get rich. […]

The poet, together with his wife and mistress, rested for several days in the mahogany matrimonial bed belonging to our landlord, recovering from the hardships of his journey. [….]   The four of us became involved in a heated discussion with the poet…

It is at this point in the short story, on page 168, that the quote used by William A. Cook begins. The quote, from the short story The January Offensive is printed below:

The world is ruled by neither justice nor morality; crime is not punished nor virtue rewarded, one is forgotten as quickly as the other. The world is ruled by power and power is obtained with money. To work is senseless, because money cannot be obtained through work, but through exploitation of others. And if we cannot exploit as much as we wish, at least let us work as little as we can. Moral duty? We believe neither in the morality of man nor in the morality of systems.”
― Tadeusz BorowskiThis Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

It would appear that William A. Cook got this quote from the website in the link above, which gives many quotes from Borowski’s books.  If you read the above quote, in its original context, in the book of short stories entitled This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, you will see that this paragraph has quote marks around it. I interpreted the quote marks to mean that the words quoted above were the words of “the poet” who was living with Borowski in an apartment taken away from a Nazi after the war.

If you read Borowski’s entire book of short stories, as I did, you will observe that the words that were quoted by William A. Cook, were not the sentiments of Borowski.  No, the remarkable thing about Borowski’s book is that he wrote about the good life that he enjoyed at Auschwitz; he mentioned the concerts every Sunday at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the soccer games near the Krema III gas chamber, the boxing matches in the camp, the wedding that took place at Auschwitz, and the road to the Sauna where the prisoners took showers.

The most famous quote from Borowski’s stories is the quote from his short story entitled The People Who Walked On:

Between two throw-ins in a soccer game, right behind my back, three thousand people had been put to death.

In the above quote, Borowski was referring to a transport of 3,000 Hungarian Jews who had been put to death in the gas chambers at Birkenau in 1944.  “The People who walked on” were Jews who walked past the gas chambers and went on to the Sauna where they took a shower. I previously blogged about this here.

While Jews were being gassed to death, only yards from the soccer field, Borowski was playing soccer with a team of inmates against a team of SS men.  Borowski was a hospital orderly; he had taken a training course for this job at Auschwitz.  Did Borowski really believe that Jews were being gassed while he was playing soccer?

This quote, from the book This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, is from the very start of the book, on page 29, after an introduction by someone else:

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 very first sentence in the book tells how Zyklon-B gas was used to disinfect the clothing of the prisoners as soon as they arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Borowski apparently knew, from the moment that he arrived at Auschwitz, that the same gas that was used to kill the lice that spreads typhus, was also used to kill people in homicidal gas chambers.   The Nazis went to a great deal of trouble to save the prisoners from dying of typhus, while at the same time gassing prisoners to death.  Does this make any sense?