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This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
File:This Way for the Gas - Borowski (front cover).jpg
Author Tadeusz Borowski
Original title Pożegnanie z Marią
Country United States
Language English
Genre Documentary
Publisher Viking Penguin
Publication date 1959
Published in English
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 180
ISBN 0-14-018624-7
OCLC Number 2458688
Dewey Decimal 891.8/537 20
Library of Congress Classification PG7158.B613 A28 1976

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, also known as Ladies and Gentlemen, to the Gas Chamber, is a collection of short stories by Tadeusz Borowski, which were inspired by the author's concentration camp experience. The original title in the Polish language was Pożegnanie z Marią (Farewell to Maria).[1] The book was featured in Penguin's series "Writers from the Other Europe" from the 1970s. Philip Roth was the general editor, and the series included authors such as Danilo Kiš, Bruno Schulz, Jiří Weil, and Milan Kundera among others.[2]

Borowski was not part of the resistance against the Nazis during World War II in Warsaw, but his girlfriend at the time took part in it. She was captured, and because he was so much in love with her, he went to a known resistance meeting place in order to get arrested in an attempt to go to the same concentration camp as she. He was incarcerated at the notorious Auschwitz death camp. In searing, satiric prose Borowski details what life and death was like in the Nazi concentration camps.

The short stories are linked by the themes as well as the presence of the main character Tadek, who serves the role of the narrator as well as the central character. To a large degree the short stories are autobiographical. Tadek is a condensed version of Tadeusz and there is a high likelihood that Borowski was writing from experience. But the two "characters" themselves are different. Tadek is a survivalist with a hard shell. Borowski, described by others, was a leader and a man who nobly helped others and did not only worry about himself.

The short stories contained in this volume include:

  • "Pożegnanie z Marią" ("Farewell to Maria")
  • "Dzień na Harmenzach" ("A Day in Harmenza")
  • "Proszę państwa do gazu" ("This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen")
  • "Śmierć powstańca" ("Death of an Insurrectionist")
  • "Bitwa pod Grunwaldem" ("Battle of Grunwald")

With the author's permission, the volume was expanded to include further stories:

  • "Chłopiec z Biblią" ("A Boy with a Bible")
  • "U nas, w Auschwitzu..." ("Among Us, in Auschwitz...")
  • "Ludzie, którzy szli" ("The People Who Walked By")
  • "Ojczyzna" ("The Motherland")
  • "Ofensywa styczniowa" ("The January Offensive")

In the stories Borowski takes a "behavioral" approach – he only describes the behavior and outward reactions of the characters without delving into inner emotions and motivations, or specifying any kind of obvious moral judgment.

Borowski's work attracted much attention, and his stories of the camps were highly acclaimed in Polish literary circles. Despite the deceptive simplicity of his style and his documentary technique, his writing carries a burden of meaning that far transcends the merely actual.
– Penguin Books

Notes and references

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