This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen Characters

Tadeusz Borowski



The narrator of the entire collection of short stories. Tadek is Polish and therefore a “privileged” prisoner at Auschwitz. He works a variety of jobs at camp, such as unloading the prisoners from the transport trains, working on a farm, and working as an orderly in the camp’s hospital. He is hardened by camp life but still tries to help other prisoners when he can. He is determined to survive Auschwitz so that he can be reunited with his fiance.


Henri is described as being a fat Frenchman. He works in the Canada kommando, unloading prisoners and their possessions from the trains at Auschwitz.

The rabbi

The rabbi in the bunk directly below Tadek is withered and drenched in his own excrement. His moaning annoys Tadek and Henri.


A Russian prisoner who works in the Canada kommando in “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.” He chokes a woman when she refuses to take her child with her off of the train and is praised by the SS man for his work. In “A Day at Harmenz,” Andrei works on the farm and tries to teach two Greek prisoners how to march. When the Unterscharfuhrer sees that the Greeks cannot march, he tells Andrei to kill them.

The blonde Jewish girl

(The entire section is 575 words.)

Additional Characters

(Short Stories for Students)


Andrei is a Russian sailor who is a member of the labor gang that unloads the Jews from the cattle cars. He attacks a woman who is trying to deny her child to keep from being sent to the gas chambers. Through his act of attacking the woman, he wins the approval of the SS officers.


The narrator notices an attractive, confident Jewish girl. She calmly asks him what will happen to them. Though he will not answer her, she tells him that she already knows the truth. Instead of allowing herself to be among the women chosen to go to the labor camp, she puts herself on the trucks headed for the gas chambers.


Henri, a Communist from France, is a friend of the narrator's. A member of the Canada labor gang, Henri regularly smuggles back food and clothing for his friends. He has a cynical attitude toward the camp, his fellow prisoners, and the Jewish victims, as well as a clear understanding that the welfare of the prisoner-workers depends on the continuing destruction of the Jews.

Little Girl

The little girl pushes herself out of the train window. Her mind has been unhinged by the experience, and she walks in circles until an SS man knocks her down with a kick and then shoots her dead.


The unnamed narrator is a Polish gentile imprisoned in Auschwitz. He is better off than most prisoners, receiving food...

(The entire section is 456 words.)