Scrapbookpages Blog

July 13, 2016

Elie Wiesel — a Holocaust icon everywhere but Poland

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: — furtherglory @ 9:26 am

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.730246

The following quote is from the news article, cited above:

Begin quote

Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir, “Night,” isn’t on the Polish school curriculum, says Jakub Nowakowski, director of Krakow’s Galicia Jewish Museum, who hosts teacher-training seminars on how to educate about the Holocaust, adding, “It wasn’t even translated into Polish until the mid 1990s, and only in a limited edition. It wasn’t readily available until 2007.”

Poles have their own canon of Holocaust literature taught at school, such as “Medallions,” by Zofia Nałkowska, “Conversations with an Executioner,” by Kazimierz Moczarski; and “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen,” by Tadeusz Borowski.

End quote

There may be a few people, living in a cave somewhere, who don’t know the name Tadeusz Borowski. I wrote about him on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/05/tadeusz-borowski-auschwitz-survivor/

April 29, 2015

“Between two throw-ins, right behind my back,” 3,000 Jews were gassed to death.

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:50 am

Today is April 29th, the anniversary of the day that the Dachau concentration camp was liberated in 1945.  I wrote about the Dachau liberation last year on this blog post:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/emaciated-survivors-of-the-dachau-horror-camp/

On this blog post, I wrote about the “Dachau massacre” on the day that the camp was liberated:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/new-book-about-felix-sparks-gives-a-new-perspective-on-the-liberation-of-dachau-and-the-dachau-massacre/  Wikipedia calls the “Dachau massacre” a “reprisal.

Whatever. Now I am blogging about something different.  Read on.

My photo of the ruins of the Krema III gas chamber with the prisoner's soccer field in the background

My photo of the ruins of the Krema III gas chamber with the prisoner’s soccer field in the background

My photo of the ruins of Gas Chamber III at Auschwitz-Birkenau

My photo of the ruins of Gas Chamber III at Auschwitz-Birkenau. A soccer field where the prisoners played is shown in the background on  the left.

The title of my blog post today is a  quote from Tadeusz Barowski’s famous book entitled This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, which is about his time, as a prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau, when 400,000 Hungarian Jews were gassed in only 10 weeks.

Or was it 560,000 Jews that were killed in only 10 weeks? Sadly, no one knows the exact number because no one recorded their names, nor their prison identification numbers.  I wrote about the number of Hungarian  Jews that were killed, in 10  weeks, on this  previous blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/how-many-hungarian-jews-were-murdered-in-the-holocaust/

Crematorium 3 (Krema III) was the main gas chamber where the Hungarian Jews were gassed.

Crematorium 3 (Krema III) was the main gas chamber where thousands of  Hungarian Jews were gassed in May 1944

The gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau were not a secret; all the prisoners were aware of what was going on. Many of the Jews saved themselves by lying about their age, or sneaking  over into the line of the prisoners that had been chosen to be workers in the 425 acre camp. The worker Jews were marched, on the same road, to the Central Sauna where they took a shower and had their hair shaved off. They were then assigned to barracks in the camp.

According to Tadeusz Borowski, a Polish political prisoner at Birkenau,  a soccer field was built at the camp in the Spring of 1944 “on the broad clearing behind the hospital barracks.”  Hospital barracks?  Surely not!  Why would a “death camp” have a hospital? Something wrong!

The team of prisoners played against a team of SS men who worked in the nearby hospital.

My early morning photo of the ruins of Gas Chamber III at Auschwitz-Birkeanu

My early morning photo of the ruins of Gas Chamber III at Auschwitz-Birkeanu

By 1944, the railroad tracks into the camp had been extended all the way from the Gate of Death at Birkenau to the gas chambers at the western end of the camp; the men playing soccer were able to see the victims arrive on the trains and then walk to Krema III, which was “right by the fence” that separated the gas chambers from the barracks in the camp. Note the fence in the black and white photo above.

Borowski famously wrote, in his book, that he was the goalkeeper in a soccer game on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in May, and “Between two throw-ins, right behind my back, three thousand people had been put to death.”

Three thousand was the number of Jews that typically arrived on each train transport.

During the extermination of the Hungarian Jews in May 1944, an entire transport would be gassed without going through a selection process, in spite of the fact that the Nazis were desperate for workers in their munitions factories.

Most of the Holocaust survivors, who are still alive today, are Hungarian Jews and each of them has his or her unique story of how  they escaped the gas chambers.

I wrote about some of the stories of escape from the gas chambers on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/stories-of-escape-from-the-gas-chambers-at-auschwitz-birkenau/

In other news today, you can read about a movie that is being made about Deborah Lipstadt’s victory over “Holocaust denier David Irving.” at http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Authors-battle-with-Holocaust-denier-to-hit-silver-screen-400609

I blogged about this trial on this blog post:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/deborah-lipstadt-who-defeated-hard-core-holocaust-denial-now-worries-about-soft-core-denial/

June 23, 2013

Which way for the gas, Ladies and Gentlemen?

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:52 pm

When I started blogging, way back on February 5, 2010, my first blog post was about Tadeusz Borowski who wrote a series of short stories which were published in a book entitled This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.  Now I am back to square one, asking which way was the way to the gas: to the left or to the right?

Two women were sent to the right by the SS man doing the selections at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Two women are sent to the left by the SS man doing the selections for the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

A woman and her baby are sent to the left by an SS officer at Auschwit-Birkenau

A woman and her baby are sent to the right by an SS officer at Auschwitz-Birkenau

This website shows a series of photos, including the photo of the woman and her baby, shown above.

This quote is from the website which shows the photo above with this caption:

From \”The Auschwitz Album\”, the only photographic documentation of the entire extermination process at Auschwitz. An SS has just sent the woman with the infant to join those being sent to the crematoria; her hair is covered in the tradition of the Orthodox Jewish wife. A man is standing between the columns missing his pants and one shoe; this was a common occurrence in the overcrowded boxcars. On the left stand inmates in striped camp clothing. The main gate to Birkenau camp under which the trains pass is ar (sic) the rear left of the photograph.

Almost all survivors of the Holocaust say that those, who were selected to be gassed, were sent to the LEFT. The first photo above shows two women, who are capable of working, being sent to the LEFT.  A woman and her baby, who are not capable of working, are being sent to the RIGHT.

So which way was it?  To the left for the gas chamber, or to the right.  Actually, it could have been either way.  The photo below shows Krema II on the left and Krema III on the right; both had underground gas chambers, where morgues would normally have been.

Krema II on the left in the backround, and Krema III on the right

Krema II on the left in the background, and Krema III on the right

Jews arriving on a train inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

Jews arriving on a train inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

(Click on the photo to enlarge.)

The photo above shows Jews getting off a train that has just arrived on the tracks that were extended inside the camp in May 1944.  On the left side of the photo, out of camera range, were the women’s barracks and the disinfection chambers, which used Zyklon-B gas to disinfect the prisoner’s clothing. In the background, on the left side of the train tracks, you can see the high chimney of Krema II, one of the crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Krema III is on the other side of the train, but out of camera range.

The road, that runs along the left side of the tracks, leads to an intersection where prisoners could go to the right and walk to the Sauna to take a shower.  Or the prisoners, who got off the train, could go to the left toward the disinfection chambers, where there were also showers.  So, either direction, the prisoners could go to the showers.

But which way was it to the gas, Ladies and Gentlemen?  What gas?  You mean: which way was it to the underground morgues in the crematoria, where bodies were stored until they could be cremated in the ovens of Krema II and Krema III?  Either direction.  Krema II was on the left side of the tracks and Krema III was on the right side of the tracks.

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?

December 7, 2010

“The People Who Walked On” at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 12:28 pm

“The People Who Walked On” is the title of a short story, written by Polish writer Tadeusz Borowski, which is included in a collection of short stories in a book entitled This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, published by Penguin Books.  Borowski was a prisoner himself at Birkenau, so he was a witness to what happened there.  But what does it mean — “the people who walked on”?  What’s he talking about?    Maybe it would be easier to understand if his original Polish words were translated as “the people who walked on by.”

Women and young children walking past Krema III at Birkena

The photo above clearly illustrates “the people who walked on.”  This group of women and children are looking toward Krema II as they pass Krema III which is in the background.  They are headed to the intersection of the main camp road and the road to the Sauna, where they will turn right and go to the shower room in the Sauna.  The intersection no longer exists because it is currently covered by the International Monument.

International monument at Birkenau is located between ruins of Krema II and Krema III

In the photo above, the International Monument is on the left.  The fence posts for the fence around Krema III can be seen in the background. The monument covers the first part of the road that leads to the Sauna. Krema II and Krema III were blown up on Jan. 20, 1945 after the prisoners were marched out of the camp on Jan. 18, 1945.

In his short story “The People Who Walked On,”  Borowski famously wrote:

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

He was referring to 3,000 Hungarian Jews who had been put to death in the four gas chambers in the crematoria 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.

Here is a quote from Borowski’s short story, which explains why the people walked on by Krema III:

In the following months, the procession to the little wood moved along two roads: one leading straight from the ramp, the other past the hospital wall.  Both led to the crematoria, but some of the people had the good fortune to walk beyond them, all the way to the Zauna, and this meant more than just a bath and a delousing, a barber’s shop and a new prison suit.  It meant staying alive.  […]

Each day, as I got up in the morning to scrub the hospital floors, the people were walking — along both roads.  Women, men, children.

They carried their bundles.

The road that went “past the hospital wall” was the main camp road.  The location of the hospital was just east of Krema III; it is shown on the map below.  (Click on the photo to enlarge)

Map of Birkenau. The top of the map is west, not north

Famous photo of a woman and her children walking down the road “leading straight from the ramp” at Birkenau, carrying their bundles

Men walking on the north-south road “leading straight from the ramp”

Women and children walking on the same north-south road leading straight from the ramp, carrying bundles

Men selected for labor walking on the same road as the women and children

The “ramp” where the Jews got off the trains inside the Birkenau camp in 1944

In May 1944, the train tracks were extended inside the Birkenau camp so that the trains could be brought right up to the gas chambers in Krema II and Krema III.   The Jews who got off the train on the track on the right hand side would walk down the north-south road that went through the middle of the camp.  The Jews who got off the trains on the other side would walk down the main camp road, which led to the Krema II and Krema III gas chambers. Before the International Monument was built, the main camp road intersected an east-west road that led to the Sauna, where incoming prisoners took a shower. On the other side of the road were Krema IV and Krema V, which had gas chambers, disguised as shower rooms.

Men in one column and women and children in another

Hungarian Jews, who have just arrived on a train, form two lines before marching down the main camp road at Birkenau, shown on the right side of the photo above.  Notice the complete lack of guns, dogs or even guard towers.  Dr. Mengele is the man standing in front of the column on the right, holding a cigarette at chest height. The “gate of death” is shown in the background.  Both columns will march to the end of the main camp road, passing Krema II and Krema III, then turn right and continue down the road to the Sauna and to the fake showers in Krema IV and Krema V.

The north-south road that leads to the Sauna

Shower room in the Sauna building

North-South road through the middle of the Birkenau camp

The photo above was taken in 2005; it shows the road that goes from the women’s camp on the south side of the Birkenau camp, all the way to the new section, called Mexico, on the north side.  This is the start of Lagerstrasse A, the road “leading straight from the ramp.”  When the prisoners reached Lagerstrasse B, at the mid-point of this road, they turned left and continued on to the western end of the camp where the Sauna was located.  Krema IV and Krema V were also located at the western end of the camp, across the road from the Sauna.

Survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp talk about the selection process in which those who could work were waved to the right and those who were destined to be gassed were sent to the left.  Forget that.  There was no right and left.  Both groups walked down the same two roads, according to Borowski, and both roads led to the crematoria, as well as to the shower room in the Sauna.  Some of the incoming prisoners were taken to the crematoria while others walked on by and went to the Sauna.

The incoming prisoners, shown in the photo below, are waiting in the “little wood” for their turn to go into the Sauna, or maybe for the gas chambers, disguised as shower rooms, in Krema IV and Krema V.

Incoming prisoners waiting in the little wood

“The little wood” at Birkenau, 2005 photo

Borowski was not a Jew.  But that didn’t matter at Birkenau.  According to Borowski, even “Aryans” were sent to the gas chamber.

This quote is from page 113 of his book of short stories:

Why is it that nobody cries out, nobody spits in their faces, nobody jumps at their throats? We doff our caps to the S.S. men returning from the little wood; if our name is called we obediently go with them to die, and — we do nothing. […] Our only strength is our great number — the gas chambers cannot accommodate all of us. […] Do you know the last time the ‘Aryans’ were selected for the gas chamber?  April 4th.  And do you remember when we arrived in the camp? April 29th.  Do you realize what would have happened — and you with pneumonia — if we had arrived just a few weeks earlier?

After dropping this bombshell on page 113, Borowski goes on to write about the boxing matches at Birkenau — on the same page! Soccer and boxing matches at Birkenau?  Life was good, until your turn came to walk down one of the two roads to the crematoria.  Hopefully, you would be one of the fortunate ones who walked right on by.

On page 116, Borowski writes about the labor Kommandos which used to march in formation back to the main camp. “The band played and the passing columns kept step with its beat.”  Then one day, there were 10 thousand men marching back to the camp and they “were ordered to stop and stood waiting at the gate. At that moment several trucks full of naked women rolled in from the F.K.L. (women’s camp at Birkenau)  The women stretched out their arms and pleaded:  ‘Save us!  We are going to the gas chambers!  Save us!’ ”

This was happening in 1943.  The problem with this story is that the gas chamber in the main camp was not being used in 1943. The gassing of the prisoners took place in the “little red house” and “the little white house,” starting in 1942.  The two little houses were called Bunker No. 1 and Bunker No. 2.  By 1943, four new crematoria were in operation in the Birkenau camp: Krema II, Krema III, Krema IV and Krema V.

So why were women from the women’s camp at Birkenau brought in trucks to the main camp, two miles away, to be gassed?  The worst part is that Borowski wrote that the ten thousand men waiting at the gate did nothing to help the women.  Borowski wrote:  “Not one of us made a move, not one of us lifted a hand.”

Several women who survived Auschwitz-Birkenau have said that they survived because they manged to jump off the truck that was taking them to the gas chamber.  Borowski’s story confirms that women were, in fact, transported on trucks to the gas chamber.

The photo below shows the ruins of Krema III; the field of grass in the background is the location of the soccer field where Borowski was playing while 3,000 Hungarian Jews were being gassed.  How terribly insensitive of the Germans to gas people so close to the soccer field!  This also shows that they never expected someone to survive and write about the gassing, so they didn’t keep the gassing operation a secret.

Ruins of Krema III with the location of the soccer field in the background

February 5, 2010

Tadeusz Borowski – Auschwitz survivor

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , , , — furtherglory @ 6:22 pm

Yesterday, I read an article written by Cathy Alexander on February 4, 2010, which was on this Australian web site.

The title of the article is “The worst place in the world is deeply thought-provoking.”  A photo of the Arbeit Macht Frei gate at the former Auschwitz concentration camp accompanies the article, in case there is someone who doesn’t know that the “worst place in the world” is Auschwitz.

The article begins with this quote:

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

No explanation for the quote is given, but I recognized the words immediately.  This quote is from a small book entitled This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, which is a collection of short stories written by Tadeusz Borowski, a Polish political prisoner who survived Auschwitz and then had a promising literary career before he took his own life on July 1, 1951. The title of the short story about the soccer game is The People who Walked On.

Tadeusz Borowski, a political prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Tadeusz Borowski, a political prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The famous quote that Ms. Alexander put at the top of her article is an exaggeration.  It would actually take all day for 3,000 Jews to be gassed at Birkenau.

The soccer field at Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, was right behind Krema III, the crematorium building which had one of the two large underground gas chambers at the death camp. Three thousand Jews would arrive on a train transport and a privileged group of Kapos would be there to take their luggage and reassure them.

As the victims marched to the gas chamber, there were other privileged prisoners playing soccer, as well as the prisoners in the camp orchestra who would be practicing for a concert in another nearby field.

After the provocative quote at the beginning of her article, Ms. Alexander proceeds to describe what it is like for a visitor to Auschwitz today.

She writes:

“The Nazi concentration camp seems an unlikely tourist attraction.”

And this:

“That’s partly what’s so unsettling about a visit to Auschwitz. It’s a mixture of horror and the mundane – tour groups, toilets, a snack shop.”

Finally at end of the article, Ms. Alexander gets to the initial quote, as she writes:

“So why was Tadeusz Borowski, the author quoted at the start of the story, both a victim and a survivor of Auschwitz?

“He survived the camp and was freed by the Russians in 1945. He wrote stories about the thousands of people he saw taken to the gas chambers. One is called “this way for the gas, ladies and gentlemen”.

“Six years after he left Auschwitz, and haunted by his experiences, Borowski opened a gas valve and took his own life.”

Actually, Borowski was transferred to a labor camp near Stuttgart and then to Dachau.  He was liberated by American soldiers at Allach, a sub-camp of Dachau.

No one knows why Borowski took his own life because he didn’t leave a note.  He had attempted suicide twice before.  He seemed to have everything to live for: his wife, who was a survivor of the Birkenau death camp, had just given birth to a baby girl three days before. He was already a well-known writer, one of the first to write about the Holocaust.

Ms. Alexander asks why Borowski was both a victim and a survivor of Auschwitz.  Borowski alludes to the answer to this question in his story This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen. Borowski wrote the story in the first person, told through the eyes of a Kapo named Tadeusz.  The story is fiction, but based on the real life experience of an Auschwitz inmate.

In his short stories, Borowski was trying to make the point that there were prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau who survived because they cooperated with the Nazis and did nothing to save the Jews.  They were also victims because many of them couldn’t live with this after the war.

After  Borowski was liberated at Allach, he still had to remain behind barbed wire as the former prisoners had to stay in Displaced Persons camps until they could emigrate to another country.  The last DP camp, at the German army barracks at Belsen, was finally closed in 1957.

Borowski wrote this in the diary that he kept in a DP camp in Morachium, Germany:

“No doubt the purpose of this whole great war was so that you, friend from Chicago, could cross the salt water, battle your way through all of Germany, and reaching the barbed wire of Allach, share a Camel cigarette with me… And now they’ve put you on guard duty, to keep an eye on me, and we no longer talk to one another, and I must look like a prisoner to you, for you search me and call me boy.  And your slain comrades say nothing.”

Borowski’s wife was sent from Birkenau to a camp in Germany where she was able to go to Sweden after she was liberated.  She was reluctant to leave Sweden, but after Borowski went there and proposed marriage to her, she finally consented.  Neither of them wanted to go back to Poland or to Ukraine where Borowski was born.

The story entitled This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen was written while Borowski was in the DP camp at Morachium, and it had already been published in Poland.

The story begins with a first person account by a fictional character named Tadeusz; it describes how the Kapos were excited when a new transport of Jews arrived at the Judenrampe, the railroad platform that was used before the train tracks were extended inside the Birkenau camp.

A new transport meant that the Kapos could steal the food that the Jews had brought with them and take items of clothing from the luggage before it was taken to the warehouses known as Canada because of all the riches to be found there.  The point is that some of the prisoners at Auschwitz saved themselves by helping the Nazis and that they were living the good life in the camp while others died in the gas chamber. Tadeusz Borowski was a victim because he couldn’t live with the fact that he was one of the privileged prisoners who was playing soccer while the Jews descended to their death in the gas chamber.

Tadeusz Borowski chose to die by sticking his head into a gas oven and turning on the gas.  Was he trying to make amends for the way he callously continued playing soccer while he knew that 3,000 Jews from a transport were being gassed?