Survival of Nazi Atrocities and Borowski’s Narrative Techniques in This Way To The Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

Survival of Nazi Atrocities and Borowski’s Narrative Techniques in This Way To The Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

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Tadeusz Borowski’s “This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” is a story told by Tadek, the diminutive of Tadeusz, recounting the Nazi atrocities that took place in Auschwitz. In his rendering of daily life in Auschwitz, Borowski explains his role as a kapo: a non-Jewish inmate who works and schemes to survive amid daily slaughter. In the ‘concentration universe’ social relations are determined by access to basic goods needed for survival, like food and clothing, and by the surplus of these that can buy their possessor a place in society (Kennedy 160). Tadek works his way up the inmate social latter in order to survive in the camp for so long. His tactics include bartering for privileges and goods, lying and stealing. By doing this he is able to survive in such barbaric conditions as Auschwitz. As the story goes on, Tadek’s emotional wall begins to come down and you see that he does indeed feel guilty and has empathy for all of the transports who are sent to the crematorium. In Borowski’s “This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen”, he discloses the survival techniques that Tadek uses while in captivity of the Germans through narrative techniques such as symbolism, tone and characterization in order to portray him as a likeable character and humanize him as the story goes on.
Symbolism is portrayed in the story through the dehumanization of the prisoners. At the beginning of the story, Borowski dehumanizes the other inmates by comparing both Tadek and them to animals. He says, “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” (Borowski 9). This description opens the story in a very cr...


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...n down as he describes very intimate exchanges with transports such as the grey-haired woman and the beautiful blonde lady.




Works Cited


Borowski, Tadeusz. This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen: “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen”. (1959), pp. 9-29.

Boyarin, Jonathan, and Daniel Boyarin. "Self-exposure as theory: The double mark of the male Jew." Rhetorics of Self-making (1995): 16-42.

Kennedy, Ellen. This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski. History Workshop , No. 14 (Autumn, 1982), pp. 160-164.

Power, Chris. "A Brief Survey of the Short Story Part 35: Tadeusz Borowski." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 26 Aug. 2011. Web. 28 Nov. 2013.

Vedder, Barbara. This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski. Review by: J. J. Maciuszko. World Literature Today , Vol. 51, No. 4 (Autumn, 1977), pp. 649-650.

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