The Man who Broke into Auschwitz
The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz is the title of an autobiographical book by Denis Avey, who became a recipient of a British Hero of the Holocaust award for the actions narrated in his book. It was written together with Rob Broomby and published by Hodder in 2011. The publishers describe the book as 'an international best-seller' and as of February 2012 it had been translated into nine languages.[dead link] It carries a foreword by Sir Martin Gilbert. The novelist James Long assisted with research and helped to edit and structure the manuscript.
Avey relates his wartime service and how he came to be held prisoner in E715A, a camp for Allied Prisoners of War adjacent to Monowitz. He describes how he exchanged uniforms with a Jewish inmate of Auschwitz III in order to enter this camp to discover more about conditions there, with a view to reporting these to the authorities after the war. He also relates how he smuggled cigarettes to another Jewish inmate Ernst Lobethal, having obtained these from Lobethal’s sister in Britain. He was convinced that Ernst had died by early 1945, because he could not have survived the death marches when the camp was evacuated. He also said that after the war the authorities were not interested in his story and he kept silence for more than half a century. Eventually he did begin to disclose his story and it came to the attention of the BBC. Rob Broomby was able to trace Lobethal’s sister Susanne and her son had a copy of a video recording which her brother before his death had made for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education in which he describes how a British POW known as 'Ginger' smuggled the cigarettes to him and how these saved his life by enabling him to exchange them for food and to have new soles put on his boots which enabled him to survive the death march.
Some questions have been raised by British writer, Guy Walters, as to whether Avey actually managed to smuggle himself into Auschwitz. Walters points out that Charles Coward also claimed to have smuggled himself into Auschwitz III by means of an exchange, and that this was the subject of a book 'The Password is Courage' where Coward is billed on the back cover as 'The Man who Broke into Auschwitz'. For the paperback edition of Avey's book the publishers issued some 'notes on sources' by Broomby and James Long, responding to some of the questions raised. These are also available on the publisher's website.
- Walters-White (8 April 2011). "Did this British PoW really smuggle himself into Auschwitz to expose the Holocaust... or is his account pure fantasy and an insult to millions who died there?first=Guy". Daily mail. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
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