What We Must Do To Survive Tadeusz Borowski short story “Ladies and Gentlemen to the Gas Chamber”, is a compelling story based on Tadeusz Borowski own experiences at Auschwitz Concentration Camp. This horrific account at Auschwitz is described though the eyes of a narrator and Henri, one of the forced residents of Auschwitz from Poland. Through the story we see that the narrator and Henri do whatever it takes in order to survive and live a decent life while they are forced to stay at Auschwitz. The narrator and Henri are inmates Auschwitz who have the task of unloading rail cars filled with people and all of their belongings.
As we relive the experiences, we will compare and contrast each of their perceptions as these events unfold. We will first start by viewing areas of the story where morals or values are either given up to survive as well as areas where morals or values are continued to be followed, and the consequences that follow. Secondly we will look at how the narrator and Henri handle what they see as the events unfold in front of them. In the story we come across several examples of moral dilemmas. Some characters or people choose to stand up for what is right, while others choose to give up their morals.
The reason why some choose to set aside their morals is a simple and easy choice for some. They chose to give up their morals because they (the narrator and Henri being some of these characters) feel it will increase their chances of survival by taking on a task necessary for the operations of the camp to continue. This moral defilement ensures that you will not be able sent to the “smokestack” and guarantee a little bit better camp life then the others that choose to stand up for what is right. We will now look at some examples and quotes from the story that portray the events of those who gave up their morals and those who stood morality.
You might ask yourself first, how could people that were not Nazi’s go on killing? Why did they not revolt? The answer to these questions is fear” In the corners amid human excrement and abandoned wrist-watches lie squashed, trampled infants, naked little monsters with enormous heads and bloated bellies. We carry them out like chickens holding several in each hand. ” This would be enough to make any person fall apart. However, living in fear drove them to be strong willed individuals. It was their desire to live that also kept these men going. These soldiers experienced this fear first hand.
They are the ones that handled the millions of corpses. They watched with quiet screams as their friends and family walked to their death. The Nazis are creating a world without very little to no human values, and they do so without any human resistance. The German phrase “Une Morgue die ganze Welt” meaning “And tomorrow the world” shows the Germans starting off small at concentration camps but then building their empire one camp at a time. Originally, the prisoners’ only hope was through salvation but the Nazis do not fear retribution. An S. S. man “laughs jovially” and calls “In half an hour you’ll be talking with the top commandant!
A rabbi even “covers his head with a piece of rag torn from one of the blankets and he reads from a Hebrew praying book, wailing loudly,[and monotonously. ” The prisoners, who have loss of belief, react towards him angrily, telling someone to “shut him up” and even say that “religion is the opium of the people. ” The Godly values dissipated throughout the story and hope is what the prisoners start to rely on. The S. S. men show no fear towards god so the prisoners’ slight glimpse of hope shatters. The Nazis destroy the prisoners through the devaluation of everyone’s religious beliefs.
This devaluation of everyone’s religious beliefs quickly turns into anger and hatred towards the incomers of the camp. Incomers who arrive at the camp are treated with anger and disgust by both the prisoners and S. S. men. The Canada men “brutally tear suitcases from their [prisoners] hands, and impatiently pull of their coats. ” As a “woman reaches down quickly to pick up her handbag. A whip flies, the woman scream, stumbles, and falls. ” The narrator even states, “I don’t know why, but 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. ” The prisoners feel anger toward the incomers also because “the easiest way to relieve your hate is to turn against someone weaker. ” Glimpses of true beauty, dignity, and humanity show periodically within the camp. The narrator even refers to the camp as being a heaven of peace… ” Suddenly I see the camp as a haven of peace. It is true, other may be dying, but one is somehow still alive, one has enough food, enough strength to work …. The narrator is also touched and surprised as “suddenly, above the teeming crowd pushing forward like a river driven by an unseen power, a girl appears. She descends lightly from the train”, as if she is of higher status or more grace. There is just something about this girl that makes him so enchanted by her. Her bravery stands out for while she is near the “gas chamber: communal and disgusting. ” She faces these horrors and “with a natural gesture she runs her hands down her blouse, casually straightens her skirt…. mature look in her eyes. ” This girl possesses values that the other prisoners have lost.
Not only does she have “enchanting blond hair, with beautiful breasts”, she also has those rare qualities of courage, faith, and dignity. While she comes quickly and with pride, she “walks off resolutely in the direction of the trucks”, as if knowing she will die and leaves the camp just as quickly as she arrives. She stood up for what is right and having great faith felt peace about what was to come. She knew that dying would be far greater then living in a place without love. You can see that fear is the work horse for everything that went on in the concentration camps.
The few courageous people gladly accepted the death that was to come, for they rather die than allow other to be sent to death with their own hands. You can see the ones who lived in fear faced moral dilemmas which caused them to live in a “carnally minded” like spirit which diminished all hope, allowing the fears of their own death to forgo all morals. What they did not realize is that to live carnally-minded is death, but to live spiritually minded is life eternal. The few who did not allow fear to overcome them remained virtuous and spiritually minded, not allowing death to conquer all.