In Auschwitz, the concentration camp that was Hitler’s factory of death, the murdering of several thousand people each day had to be extremely well organized. The Germans chose young men from among the prisoners for various office chores, especially couriers. Their lives were prolonged for the moment, but they never knew for how long.
Tadeusz Borowski was one of them, and that unusual state of being suspended between life and death he described in stories right after the war, expressing incredulity that "man could conjure up such a fate for man."
No one who survived Auschwitz dared to write:
“Between two throw-ins in a football game nine thousand people had been gassed.”
For that honesty and truthfulness he paid with his life. Caught in the web of propaganda and put in the position of having to write lies about the communist future of Poland, he preferred to commit suicide.
-Andrzej Wajda, 2011
Tadeusz Borowski (November 12, 1922 – July 1, 1951) was born in the Ukraine to Polish parents and for much of his childhood was separated from them while they served time in various Soviet gulags. Eventually the family was repatriated to Warsaw where, during the German occupation of Poland in WWII, Borowski was a young student and burgeoning poet. As part of the Nazi program of “cultural genocide”, Polish-language books, magazines, and newspapers not published by the German-controlled press were completely prohibited, and it was in this environment that he secretly published his first book of poetry, Wherever the Earth (1942). In 1943 , just days after the arrest of his fiancé, a member of the Polish Underground, Borowski was also arrested and imprisoned for two months in Pawiak, the Gestapo-run political prison in Warsaw, from which he was transported to Auschwitz, where his left forearm was tattooed with the number 119198. In August 1944 the threat of the approaching Soviet Army caused the Germans to evacuate the camp and Borowski was first moved west, to Dautmergen-Natzweiler concentration camp in the Black Forest and then east on April 7 1945, to Dachau-Allach outside of Munich where he was liberated by the US Seventh Army on April 30, 1945. After several months in a displaced persons camp in Freimann he worked in Munich for the Polish Red Cross Family Tracing Service until 1946, when he returned to Warsaw. He died in 1951.