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In a brief life deeply and traumatically disrupted by two years in concentration camps as a political prisoner, Tadeusz Borowski (1922-1951) was tragically destined to become one of the most eloquent witnesses to the Holocaust in Poland. His recollections and stories, the most famous of which is This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, document in stark historical, literary, and personal terms the experience of the camps and its cost to humanity. This correspondence in this volume expands on the insights of Borowski’s published work and extends to the less-documented aftermath of the Holocaust in postwar Poland and East Germany. The volume opens with Borowski’s letter to his mother from Pawiak Prison the day after his arrest and closes with an unsigned telegram informing his parents of his suicide. The letters to and from family members, friends, and literary figures offer an indispensable picture of the world in the wake of the Nazis and of the indelible stain that experience left upon the literature, politics, and life of Eastern Europe, in particular upon one gifted and doomed writer.
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Tadeusz Drewnowski is Tadeusz Borowski’s Polish biographer and the editor of the multivolume Diaries of Maria Dabrowska.
Alicia Nitecki is the translator of Tadeusz Borowski’s We Were in Auschwitz (Welcome Rain, 2000), among other works. She is an associate professor of English at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts.
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