In his introduction to the English translation of This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, Jan Kott writes of Tadeusz Borowski's decision to render his Auschwitz stories in the first person: "The identification of the author with the narrator was the moral decision of a prisoner who had lived through Auschwitz—an acceptance of mutual responsibility, mutual participation, and mutual guilt for the concentration camp." Indeed, in a review for another author's book about the concentration camps, Borowski stated, "It is impossible to write about Auschwitz impersonally." He defined as the "first duty of Auschwitzers ... to make clear just what camp is." It is where survival depended on a prisoner's taking part in the murder and degradation of their fellow victims. "But write that you, you were the ones who did this," Borowski intoned. "That a portion of the sad fame of Auschwitz belongs to you as well."
In the collection's title story, Borowski squarely fulfills his obligation. Seen through the eyes of a Polish gentile prisoner, as Borowski himself was, "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen" describes a typical day at Auschwitz. The narrator joins in the task of unloading thousands of Jews from the cattle cars and sending them to their death in the gas chamber, all to acquire food and maybe a pair of shoes. Subject matter aside, Borowski's story is chilling and unforgettable in the success with which the narrator distances himself from his actions. As readers grow to understand that the narrator is forced to this extreme in order to continue to perform the work that guarantees his own existence, they become implicated themselves—they become part of the community of the concentration camp.