Saturday, April 13, 2013
"The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz", by Denis Avey
What an intriguing title, can this be possible without being caught and why would someone want do this in the first place, this action has been questioned by many since the book’s publication. Whether you are on the side of sceptics or not this is one incredible story of courage and determination and an exceptional life well lived.
In the opening pages and a good portion of Denis Avey autobiography, is the vivid details of horrors he had witnessed as a young soldier fighting the Italians in the North Africa War Theater, little he knew at the time this experience would be a small sample of what was to come. In the sands of the Sahara, the battles were fearless and bloody and many never made it out alive.
He goes on in a very emotional note to tell us how he was captured by the Germans in Libya and the long road to E715A, a camp for Allied Prisoners of War adjacent to Monowitz. There, he claims he swapped places with a Jewish inmate of Auschwitz 111 on two occasions and save the life of Ernst Lobethal by smuggling and supplying him with cigarettes. This part is questioned by some Holocaust survivors and experts on the subject.
When the Russians army was closing in he took advantage of an escape opportunity during the evacuation organized by the prison authorities. Ernst was able to trade the cigarettes for new soles on his shoes, so vital for his survival during the “Death March”. On his way to safety, Mr. Avery goes on detailing the hardship he suffered before reaching an RAF evacuation point and finally making it back home to England.
He ends his incredible story telling us his life as a civilian was not particularly joyous, he could not rid himself of his wartime nightmares although he did extremely well in industry as an engineer and achieved a luxurious lifestyle. He always had on his mind Ernst and wanted to know what had become of him. He was in his 90’s when with the help of BBC Berlin correspondent Rob Broomby he was able to trace Ernst’s sister who revealed more about her brother than Mr. Avey could have imagined.
Some seventy years later, Mr. Avey was awarded the British Hero of the Holocaust Award at a reception given by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
This is extremely moving and such an amazing account.