Literary Representations of Auschwitz: Tadeusz Borowski and the Sociological Analysis of Graduated Power

By Tammis Thomas.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Since the 1986 publication of The Drowned and the Saved, Primo Levi’s “The Gray Zone” has become one of the most influential meditations on the extermination and labor camps of National Socialism. Two of the seminal sociological studies of the camps—Wolfgang Sofsky’s The Order of Terror and Zygmunt Bauman’s Modernity and the Holocaust--are strongly indebted to Levi’s theorization of the gray zone, and the 2005 publication of Gray Zones: Ambiguity and Compromise in the Holocaust, which features the work of prominent Holocaust historians such as Raul Hilberg, Christopher Browning, and Gideon Greif, attests to the continuing importance of the dynamics of the gray zone in the historiography of the death camps and other components of the Nazi genocide. Although literary critics have recognized the centrality of the gray zone in literary representations of Auschwitz, critical treatments of the gray zone in the literature of Auschwitz remain incomplete. Critics have frequently noted the importance of Tadeusz Borowski’s literary portraits of prisoner-functionaries; however, critical discussions have not systematically addressed his depiction of inmate-collaborators within the context of Sofsky’s theorization of graduated power. Utilizing Sofsky’s theorization of graduated power and Levi’s analysis of the gray zone, this paper examines Borowski’s Auschwitz stories as sociological representations of the internal structure of Auschwitz.

Keywords: Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, Wolfgang Sofsky, Primo Levi, Gray Zone

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 10, pp.227-238. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.215MB).

Dr. Tammis Thomas

Associate Professor of English, Department of English, University of Houston-Downntown, Houston, Texas, USA

Tammis Thomas is an associate professor of English at the University of Houston-Downtown. Her scholarship and teaching focus on literary representations of the Holocaust and the construction of modern masculinity in German literature and culture.

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