Published by Penguin on 1976
Genres: Classics, Fiction, Short Stories (single author)
Published in Poland after World War II, this collection of concentration camp stories shows atrocious crimes becoming an unremarkable part of a daily routine. Prisoners eat, work, sleep, and fall in love a few yards from where other prisoners are systematically slaughtered. The will to survive overrides compassion, and the line between the normal and the abnormal wavers, then vanishes. Borowski, a concentration camp victim himself, understood what human beings will do to endure the unendurable. Together, these stories constitute not only a masterpiece of Polish - and world - literature but stand as cruel testimony to the level of inhumanity of which man is capable.
This book is simply amazing. As Monty Python might say, “…and now for something completely different…”
I’ve read much literature written out of the Nazi concentration camps. It’s all dreadful. Most famously Eli Wiesel’s account in Night. One aches when they read it.
This is just as horrible… but extraordinarily different. For one, this is written by a Pole, an ‘Aryan’, in Auschwitz. Because of this fact he was granted more ‘rights’ than the Jews. This is not an account that I have read before. What’s so dreadful about Borowski’s account is the ordinariness of which he describes the day by day life in the camp in.
It seems as if there is a “Yes, yes. We just saw 20k people who are on their way to the gas chamber to be slaughtered — but what can I trade you for that onion?”
Fabulous. Read it.