Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Monday, October 29, 2018

“Silence” - A 1959 Short Story by TADEUSZ, BOROWSKI - from This Way to The Gas Ladies and Gentlemen

You can read “Silence” here

“This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen”, his most famous story, can be read here

Tadeusz Borowski (Born 1922 in Zhytonyr, Ukraine, died 1951 in Warsaw, Poland.  He was arrested by the Gestapo in February of 1943, he was not Jewish, as a political prisoner.  His girl friend had recently been arrested and when he went to find her, he was arrested also.  His recently published collection of poetry was labeled as subversive.  He was ultimately sent to Auschwitz as a slave labourer.  Non-Jewish prisoners were often treated better than Jews and Borowski was made a “Kapo”, an inmate with authority over others.  He was assigned to work the rail road receiving docks when a train of new inmates arrived.

“This Way to the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen” is the title story of the collection of  stories based on his time in Auschwitz, he was there for two years. “Silence” is part of this collection.

As of now I do not have a clear understanding of the pre-translation publication history of the stories.  It was first translated into English in 1959 and the very dark humour in his stories is said to have had a large influence on Central European Literature.

“Silence” opens in a men’s barrack in concentration camp just a few days after it was liberated by Americans.  The ex-inmates are getting ready to kill a fellow prisoner who cooperated with the Germans.  Then a young American Army Officer, speaking through an interpreter and accompanied by a member of the prisoners committee formed after liberation tells them that the S.S. and those who helped them, will be punished by the allies.  He asks them not to murder anyone for revenge.   He tells them the SS men are being made to bury the dead.  The ex-inmates are mostly quiet, nodding their heads.

As soon as he leaves, they beat a man to death who had been trying to escape when the American showed up.

I will be reading all the stories in the collection soon.

Mel u

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

I sympathize with your difficulty following the publication history of these stories. I have the same challenge with Mavis Gallant's tales and they are not even in translation, but still have a murky past. I'll look forward to hearing about more of this author's works!