This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen is a collection of short stories that states a brutally true account of horror and survival in Auschwitz concentration camp. Borowski, a survivor of Auschwitz, writes this honest but brutal account to expose to the world the true horrors of the concentration camp.
This is not an easy read. The fact that Borowski has made the account as dispassionate as possible doesn’t make it any easier either. On the contrary, knowing that this comes from his personal experiences makes matters worse, for then, one cannot be detached as one wants since one knows it’s all true, and the things said, the events mentioned, actually took place. I have a fair knowledge of the holocaust and life in the concentration camps. I’ve even visited the Auschwitz main camp and Auschwitz-Birkenau and seen the remnants of the horrors. Yet, I wasn’t prepared for Borowski’s first-hand account. It tells not only of the horrors but also of survival. He shows how the prisoners themselves compete with each other for survival, how they too lose their humanity just like their jailers in the struggle to survive. It was horrifying. It staggered me, and at times, nauseated me. In truth, this was the most difficult read that I’ve ever done.
I endured this read for the same reason I bought it at Auschwitz. That is I felt that I should read it, that I should know the horrors that were hidden from the world, the atrocities done in those camps, because I felt I owe it to both the dead and forgotten, and the survivors. It’ll be a one-time experience, however, for I never can go through it again. But I’m glad I read it this once.
P.S. I didn’t rate this simply because I thought the rating system doesn’t suit the gravity of the book. I can’t say it was amazing, nor can I say that I liked or disliked it.