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This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen - Term Paper

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This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen: A human’s instinct for survival.

Throughout time, the rights of individuals have been ignored People should be entitled to freedom and equal rights. As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everybody is born free and equal. The declaration also states, that no human being should be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments. In Tadeusz Boworski’s novel, “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman” the audience is shown the deprivation of human rights. Tadek, the story’s narrator, who was not a Jew, but a polish poet suffering from depression. Due to his disorder, Tadek is considered to be a political prisoner. He then changes his mind-set due to the changing environment, in which he must survive in. With an absence of morality, he shows that when placed in jeopardous situations, the will to survive destroys humanity and morals. The reader is submerged into the grim world of the Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps, where non-Jewish prisoners live a life of luxury as opposed to their Jewish counterparts, where prisoners turn on one another, losing their morality for survival while the human psyche is challenged by imprisonment.
A vast majority of Holocaust literature is written in the view of a Jewish prisoner, however, in This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, the reader is given an appalling view of from the eyes of a polish political prisoner. The story’s narrator is part of the Kommando – the labour gang that is responsible for helping S.S. guards unload the transport trucks full of prisoners headed for either the gas chambers or a labour camp. The novel begins with the narrator describing the thousands of prisoners walking around nude, in the grueling heat because their striped suits are being deloused. This scene gives the reader a preview of the unethical settings in a concentration camp. Three weeks prior to his arrival the Nazi’s stopped sending Aryan inmates to the gas chambers, granting Tadek with the luxury of living in the camps Canada; where members of the kommando labour gang reside. As part of the job of clearing out transport trucks, the labour gang are allowed to take any food, clothing or supplies that gas chamber bound Jews had left behind. When the first transport truck is arrives they are packed so tightly that people have no room to move and must fight for air. The kommando begin to unload the trucks as per instruction. As prisoners get off the train they desperate beg Tadek to let them know what is going to happen to him, however, the rules of the camp forbid him to tell them that they are headed to their certain death. Red-Cross vans arrive giving prisoners the illusion that they will be taken care of, oblivious to the fact that the vans in fact carried the poison went to kill them. After the truck is unloaded his group must clean out anything that remained such as trampled infants and other human remains. Tadek dehumanizes his task of carrying the dead infants by comparing it to a butcher carrying a handful of chickens. Tadek uses this to separate himself from the horrors of what he is actually doing. Once finished, Tadek is disgusted with himself and tells his friend Henri that he doesn’t want to anymore transports. Nevertheless, he knows that if he does not cooperate with the Nazi’s he will be sent to the gas chambers himself or shot. Against his will Tadek begins to unload the next truck. Shortly after Tadek’s view of the Jewish inmates being sent to the chambers he feels ashamed of his job, however, he is very apathetic towards the Jews and believes that they are to blame for his imprisonment. This is shown when he says,
“[…] I am furious, simply furious with these people—furious because I must be here because of them. I feel no pity. I am not sorry they're going to the gas chamber…”. (Borowski 116)
This line shows the narrators’ apathetic views of Jewish prisoners and well as his frustration towards them. Despite being in a horrible situation, most readers would expect that Tadek would still feel sympathy for the other inmates however, this scene shows the harsh reality of life at a camp. In order to survive a person must attempt to separate themselves from the reality of their surroundings. The most prominent theme in this book is survival. In many cases, we are shown how one must adapt in order to survive. Our narrator realizes what he must do to survive he becomes institutionalized and surrenders to Nazi control. The clear message in this book is that in order to cope in dreadful surroundings a human must overturn their basic human values and set aside their humanity. Though Tadek is the central character in the story, readers are shown the other inmates struggle for survival. During the unloading of a transport truck, Tadek witnesses something truly appalling. He sees a Jewish woman walking quickly, then a small child running after her and crying ‘Mama! Mama!’ The woman then attempts to deny the child, knowing that mothers are to be gassed along with their children. The most disturbing part of the scene was the fact that it was not an S.S. officer that stopped the woman, called her a ‘filthy Jewess’ and pushed her and the child into the line of people going to the chambers, but another inmate named Andrei. The perpetrator then earns praise from the guards. This shows how prisoners turn on one another and reconcile with the Nazi regime in order to survive a concentration camp. After witnessing this outburst, Tadek says to himself
“She is young, healthy, good-looking, she wants to live” (This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen, p.43)

Referring to the fact that the young mother was willing to abandon her own kin in order to survive. As humans, it is expected for women to love and nurture their children. At birth, when a mother holds her child in her arms are the first time a bond is created and she makes a promise to love an protect her child forever. Readers are shown how easily people turn on one another solely for the purpose of survival.

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