Nazi Labour Camps and Capitalism

1905 Words8 Pages
Throughout the communist era in Central and Eastern Europe, but especially in the first half of that era, capitalism was seen as immoral and inhumane. Capitalism, as discussed by Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto, was the cause of many social ills in society and needed to be overthrown (Marx 221-222). In “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen,” Tadeusz Borowski uses imagery and characters to compare and contrast the Nazi labor camp to capitalism. Although the ideology of capitalism is not as cruel as the Nazi labor camps, when put in practice it does have some similarities to these camps. Of course, Borowski wrote this story while he was a member of the communist party, which suggests that his opinion of capitalism may be…show more content…
Hence, Borowski may have used the imagery of rapid transportation and wealth to make the reader think of capitalism in Germany, which would lead the reader to realize that capitalism played a role in World War Two (WWII) and the labor camps. Moreover, this division of labor is representative of the class struggle that is represented in The Communist Manifesto. This is important because it is a reflection of how much Borowski may have been influenced by the communists when he joined the Polish communist party in 1948 (Kennedy 161). In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx argues that the evolution of society must take place because it cannot keep up with the evolving and growing economy. Hence, with the changing economy the former feudal society has evolved into a Capitalist society with just two classes, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie (Marx 220). Although Borowski does divide the detainees into different hierarchical rankings, the main division in the camp is between the S.S. Officers and the detainees including those being sent to the crematorium. Just because the main character in the story, Tadek, is in group Canada does not mean that he is treated well by the S.S. Officers. “‘Why are you standing about like sheep? Start unloading!’ His whip flies and falls across our backs” (Borowski 28). Hence, all of the prison laborers and those sent to the crematoria all have the S.S.
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