November 12, 1922|
"Żytomierz, "Ukrainian SSR
|Died||July 1, 1951
|Genre||poetry, short stories|
|Notable works||"This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen|
|Notable awards||National Literary Prize, Second Degree (Poland)|
Tadeusz Borowski (Polish pronunciation: "[taˈdɛuʂ bɔˈrɔfskʲi], 12 November 1922 – 1 July 1951) was a "Polish writer and "journalist. His wartime poetry and stories dealing with his experiences as a prisoner at "Auschwitz are recognized as classics of "Polish literature and had much influence in "Central European society.
Borowski was born in 1922 into the Polish community in "Zhytomyr, "Ukrainian SSR (today "Ukraine). In 1926, his father, whose bookstore had been "nationalized by the communists, was sent to a camp in the "Gulag system in "Russian Karelia because he had been a member of a Polish military organization during "World War I. In 1930, Borowski's mother was "deported to a settlement on the shores of the "Yenisey, in Siberia, during "Collectivization. During this time Tadeusz lived with his aunt.
In 1932, Borowski was repatriated from the "USSR to Poland due to the efforts of the "Polish Red Cross. He settled in "Warsaw with his brother Juliusz. Shortly after their return to Warsaw, Borowski's father was freed from the gulag after a prisoner exchange with a Polish communist. In 1934, Borowski's mother was released and returned to Poland.
In 1940 Borowski finished his secondary schooling in a "secret underground lyceum in Nazi-occupied Poland, and then began studies at the underground "Warsaw University (Polish language and literature).
He also became involved in several underground newspapers and started to publish his poems and short novels in the monthly Droga, all the while working in a warehouse as a night watchman. It was during this period that he wrote most of his wartime poetry, and he clandestinely published his first collection, titled Gdziekolwiek Ziemia (Wherever the Earth).
While a member of the educational underground in Warsaw, Borowski was living with his fiancee Maria. After Maria did not return home one night in February 1943, Borowski began to suspect that she had been arrested. Rather than staying away from any of their usual meeting places, though, he walked straight into the trap that was set by the "Gestapo agents in the apartment of his and Maria's close friend. Arrested himself, he was placed in the infamous "Pawiak prison and then was transported to "Auschwitz.
Forced into "slave labor in extremely harsh conditions, Borowski later reflected on this experience in his writing. In particular, working on a railway ramp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, he witnessed Jews first being told to leave their personal property behind, and then being transferred directly from the trains to the gas chambers. While a prisoner at Auschwitz, Borowski caught "pneumonia; afterwards, he was put to work in a "Nazi medical experiment "hospital." He was able to maintain written and personal contact with his fiancee, who was also imprisoned in Auschwitz.
In late 1944 Borowski was transported from Auschwitz to the Dautmergen subcamp of "Natzweiler-Struthof, and finally to "Dachau. Dachau-Allach, where Borowski was imprisoned, was liberated by the Americans on May 1, 1945 and after that Borowski found himself in a "camp for displaced persons near "Munich.
He spent some time in "Paris, and then returned to Poland on May 31, 1946. His fiancee, who had survived the camps and emigrated to Sweden, returned to Poland in late 1946, and they were married in December 1946.
Borowski turned to prose after the war, believing that what he had to say could no longer be expressed in verse. His series of short stories about life in Auschwitz was published as Pożegnanie z Marią (Farewell to Maria, English title "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen). The main stories are written in the first person from the perspective of an Auschwitz inmate; they describe the morally numbing effect of everyday terror, with prisoners, trying to survive, often being indifferent or mean towards each other; the privileges of non-Jewish inmates like Borowski; and the absence of any heroism. Early on after its publication in Poland, this work was accused of being nihilistic, amoral and decadent. His short story cycle World of Stone describes his time in displaced person camps in Germany.
He worked as a journalist, joined the Communist-controlled "Polish Workers' Party in 1948 and wrote political tracts as well. At first he believed that Communism was the only political force truly capable of preventing any future Auschwitz from happening. In 1950 he received the National Literary Prize, Second Degree.
In the summer of 1949 he was sent to work in the Press Section of the Polish Military Mission in "Berlin. He returned to Warsaw a year later and entered into an extramarital affair with a young girl.
Soon after a close friend of his (the same friend who had earlier been imprisoned by the Gestapo, and in whose apartment both Borowski and his fiancee had been arrested) was imprisoned and tortured by the Communists. Borowski tried to intervene on his behalf and failed; he became completely disillusioned with the regime.
His books are recognized as classics of Polish post-war literature and had much influence in Central European society.