Tadeusz Borowski (1922-1951)

Death: 1st July 1951
Cause of death: Suicide - Gas
Location: Powązki Cemetery, Warsaw, Poland
Photo taken by: GrzegorzPetka
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Polish writer and journalist whose wartime poetry and stories dealing with his experiences as a prisoner at Auschwitz are recognized as classics of Polish literature. 
In 1940 Borowski became involved in several underground newspapers and started to publish his poems and short novels in the monthly Droga. 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.
Borowski was living with his fiancée Maria in Warsaw. 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, 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 first thrown into 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 fiancée, 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.
After the war he spent some time in Paris, and then returned to Poland on May 31, 1946. His fiancée, who had survived the camps and emigrated to Sweden, returned to Poland in late 1946, and they were married in December 1946.
He worked as a journalist, joined the Communist-controlled Polish Workers' Party in 1948. At first he believed that Communism was the only political force truly capable of preventing any future Auschwitz from happening. In 1950 a close friend of his (the same friend whose apartment both Borowski and his fiancée had been arrested in 1943) was imprisoned and tortured by the Communists. Borowski tried to intervene on his behalf and failed; he became completely disillusioned with the regime.
He committed suicide at the age of 28 by breathing in gas from a gas stove, three days after his wife had given birth to a daughter.
His series of short stories about life in Auschwitz were 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.