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This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

jan peczkis|Saturday, June 4, 2011

Instead of repeating the many other reviewers, I focus on certain issues. To begin with, accusations have been leveled against the author for being calloused towards Jewish deaths. In actuality, he sympathetically describes the human scenes of suffering, such as the dead and trampled infants in the death trains, the sick being shot and dumped into the pyres, entire transports of Jews going up in smoke, etc. However, he does mention the Jewish kapos.

 
       


The author has sometimes been accused of dwelling on Jewish passivity in the face of impending death. This is untrue. In fact, Borowski discusses the Sonderkommando revolt in a positive manner (p. 77), and otherwise devotes a fair amount of detail to a Jewish woman who threw gravel into the eyes of an SS man (Schillinger), grabbed his dropped revolver, and mortally wounded him. (pp. 123-126).

The author also elaborates on some of the experiences of non-Jewish inmates at the camp. One attempt at normalcy at the camp was the playing of soccer. Borowski comments: "Between two throw-ins a soccer game, right behind my back, three thousand people had been put to death." (p. 64). Obviously, this attempt at normal living should not be construed as a form of disrespect for the dying and dead. [In like manner, the oft-mentioned carousel enjoyed by Poles while the Germans were burning the Warsaw Ghetto was an attempt at normalcy, and in no way a form of disrespect towards the Jews and their sufferings.]
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