April 24, 2013
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
During the time of World War II, people considered inferior to the Nazis were sent off to concentration camps. Determining who lives and who dies was done mainly by separating those who are healthy and able to work from those who are not. So in order for these inmates to survive, they had to make themselves appear as healthy and work-capable as possible for as long as possible. Making this work was a struggle for most people. But for those that made it off of the train and into the cells of the concentration camp, there was a sliver of hope. This hope came from the letters and packages that they were allowed to receive from home, and also the forced labor gave them a sense of life security as long as they did their job better than everyone else. From these three things, the people of Auschwitz were able to not only survive, but conquer the concentration camps and everyone running it as well.
In the beginning of Auschwitz, letters and packages from home or anywhere else outside of the concentration camp were forbidden. However, as Tadeusz Borowski explains, things were getting better. After a while people who were not Jewish were allowed to send and receive letters and gifts from back home. These gifts usually consisted of homemade foods, or some sort of clothing for the receiver and played a huge part in the survival of those held captive. They would either eat the food or use items themselves or trade it with others in the camp for other goods or services. For example, in one of the short stories, one of the prisoner-workers says the wrong thing to the guard, who was also a prisoner, and threatens to report the prisoner for sentencing to the gas chambers. But before this happens, the prisoner has his friend go talk to his boss and try to work something out and ends up trading a watch sent from home for the safety of the prisoner. The entire goal in the camp is...