The page of Borowski, Tadeusz, English biography
BiographyTadeusz Borowski (1922-1951) was a Polish writer and journalist, and a Holocaust survivor.
Tadeusz Borowski was born in 1922 into the Polish community in Zhytomir, Ukraine, then part of the USSR. In 1926, his father, whose bookstore had been nationalized by the communists, was sent to a gulag in Karelia. His mother was arrested later the same year and sent to a gulag in Siberia, on the shores of the Yenisey river.
In 1932 Borowski and his brother were repatriated from the USSR to Poland thanks to the efforts of the Polish Red Cross. They settled in Warsaw. Their father was freed in a prisoner exchange with communists arrested in Poland, and their mother was released in 1934. In 1940 he finished his secondary schooling in a secret underground lyceum in Nazi-occupied Poland, and then began studies at the underground Warsaw University (Polish language and literature).
He also became involved in several underground newspapers and started to publish his poems and short novels in the monthly Droga, all the while working in a warehouse as a night watchman. 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).
Experiences under Nazi occupation
In 1943 he was arrested by the Nazi German authorities and sent to a series of concentration camps: first to Auschwitz, then to the Dautmergen subcamp of Natzweiler-Struthof, and finally to Dachau.
Forced into slave labor in extremely harsh conditions, Borowski later reflected this experience in his writing. He also worked in a railway ramp, where he witnessed new inmates 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 as a helper in a Nazi medical experiment "hospital."
After Poland's liberation by the Red Army in 1945 he moved for a short time to Munich, and on May 31, 1946 he returned to Poland. At this time he found out that his wartime fiancée, with whom he had lost all contact when she herself was arrested in 1943, had survived the camps and had also returned to Poland.
After the war
Borowski turned to prose after the war, believing that what he had to say could no longer be expressed in verse. His work was published as a series of short stories titled Pożegnanie z Marią (Farewell to Maria, English title This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen).
He joined the Communist-controlled Polish Workers' Party and wrote political tracts as well. At first he believed that Communism was the only political force truly capable of preventing any future Auschwitz from happening. In 1950 he received the National Literary Prize, Second Degree.
However, soon after a close friend of his was imprisoned and tortured by the Communists, and because of this Borowski became completely disillusioned with the regime. If the Communists were not capable of preventing "future Auschwitzes" then, perhaps, they would inevitably happen again.
He committed suicide at the age of 28 by breathing in gas from a gas stove on July 1, 1951.