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Tadeusz Borowski


1922

TB born into the Polish community in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, then part of the USSR.

1926

Father's bookstore is nationalized, he is sent to a camp in the Gulag system in Russian Karelia.

1930

Mother deported to a settlement on the shores of the Yenisey, in Siberia, during Collectivization.

1932

TB and his brother are repatriated from the USSR to Poland through the efforts of the Polish Red Cross. They settle in Warsaw.

Father is freed in a prisoner exchange with communists arrested in Poland.

1934

Mother released.

1940

TB finishes his high school in a secret underground lyceum in Nazi-occupied Poland, and begins studies at the underground Warsaw University (Polish language and literature).

Becomes involved in several underground newspapers and starts to publish his poems and short novels in the monthly Droga, all the while working in a warehouse as a night watchman. It is during this period that he writes most of his wartime poetry, and he clandestinely publishes his first collection, Gdziekolwiek Ziemia (Wherever the Earth).

1943

His fiancée, Maria, does not return home one night.

He is arrested, thrown into the infamous Pawiak prison and then transported to Auschwitz, where he is forced into slave labor in extremely harsh conditions.

Works on a railway ramp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he witnesses Jews 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 catches pneumonia; afterwards, he is put to work in a Nazi medical experiment "hospital."

1944

TB transported from Auschwitz to the Dautmergen subcamp of Natzweiler-Struthof, and finally to Dachau.

1945

1 May: Dachau-Allach is liberated by the Americans. TB sent to a camp for displaced persons near Munich.

1946

31 May: TB returns to Poland. At this time he finds out that his wartime fiancée, with whom he had lost all contact when she herself was arrested in 1943, has survived the camps and emigrated to Sweden.

1947

TB turns to prose after the war, believing that what he has to say can no longer be expressed in verse. His work is published as a series of short stories titled Pozegnanie z Maria (Farewell to Maria, but titled in English, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen).

TB joins the Communist-controlled Polish Workers' Party and writes political tracts. At first he believes that Communism is the only political force truly capable of preventing any future Auschwitz from happening.

1950

TB receives the National Literary Prize, Second Degree.

A close friend of his is imprisoned and tortured by the Communists; because of this Borowski becomes completely disillusioned with the regime.

1951

1 July: TB commits suicide at the age of 28 by breathing gas from an oven.

 

There can be no beauty if it is paid for by human injustice, nor truth that passes over injustice in silence, nor moral virtue that condones it.

 

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