book cover design contest #4: this way for the gas ladies and gentleman, tadeusz borowski

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this way for the gasI am excited about our latest contest. I was recently introduced to the work of Polish writer, journalist, and poet  Tadeusz Borowski (1922-1951) through his brilliant and unsettling short story collection This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen (originally published in Poland as Pożegnanie z Marią) based on Borowski’s experiences from 1943-1945 as a prisoner in Auschwitz and Dachau and later in a camp for displaced persons (upon which, incidentally, Andrzej Wajda‘s fantastic 1970 film Landscape After Battle is based. Wajda, of course, is the Polish filmmaker best known for his superb works Ashes and Diamonds (1958) and the recent Katyn (2007).). When first published, Borowski’s unfliching, almost clinical, accounts resulted in accusations of decadence and nihilism, but now his unadorned prose appears truly courageous in its clarity and honesty. We are pleased to have as our patron the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles.

We told them with much relish about our patient, concentration camp existence which has taught us that the whole world really is like the concentration camp; the weak work for the strong, and if they have no strength or will to work – then let them steal, or let them die.

 The world is ruled by neither justice nor morality; crime is not punished nor virtue rewarded, one is forgotten as quickly as the other. The world is ruled by power and power is obtained with money. To work is senseless because money cannot be obtained through work but through exploitation of others. And if we cannot exploit as much as we wish, at least let us work as little as we can. Moral duty? We believe in neither the morality of man, nor in the morality of systems. In German cities the stores are filled with books and religious objects, but the smoke from the crematoria still hovers above the forests…

Won’t you participate? Rules here (polski tekst).

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