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The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz [Kindle Edition]

Denis Avey , Rob Broomby
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)

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Book Description

THE MAN WHO BROKE INTO AUSCHWITZ is the extraordinary true story of a British soldier who marched willingly into Buna-Monowitz, the concentration camp known as Auschwitz III.In the summer of 1944, Denis Avey was being held in a POW labour camp, E715, near Auschwitz III. He had heard of the brutality meted out to the prisoners there and he was determined to witness what he could.He hatched a plan to swap places with a Jewish inmate and smuggled himself into his sector of the camp. He spent the night there on two occasions and experienced at first-hand the cruelty of a place where slave workers, had been sentenced to death through labour.Astonishingly, he survived to witness the aftermath of the Death March where thousands of prisoners were murdered by the Nazis as the Soviet Army advanced. After his own long trek right across central Europe he was repatriated to Britain.For decades he couldn't bring himself to revisit the past that haunted his dreams, but now Denis Avey feels able to tell the full story - a tale as gripping as it is moving - which offers us a unique insight into the mind of an ordinary man whose moral and physical courage are almost beyond belief.


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Review

This is a most important book, and a timely reminder of the dangers that face any society once intolerance and racism take hold. (Sir Martin Gilbert)

This memoir is an important contribution to a terrible chapter in history. (Daily Express)

Denis is a hero in time of terror, a man of limitless moral and physical courage. (Henry Kamm, New York Times correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner)

'This is the most amazing Holocaust memoir it's been my good fortune to read...this is a beautiful, uplifting book about a real ben adom, a mensch, who saw evil and, instead of averting his eyes, did what he could to help the victims'. (Washington Jewish Week)

an excellent memoir of survival. (Publishers Weekly)

A unique war story from a brave man. (Kirkus)

This is the incredible story of British soldier Denis Avey who broke into Auschwitz to uncover the horrors that were concealed there by the Nazis...This is a brutal account of what he experienced. There are some who doubt his story but don't let that ruin this extraordinary book. (Press Association)

THE MAN WHO BROKE INTO AUSCHWITZ will take your breath away. (La revista de Ana Rosa (Spain))

What starts as an act of reportage then becomes a moving and ultimately triumphant story of survival. (Belfast Telegraph)

'Exceptional'. (Morgenpost (Germany))

An astonishing heroic tale of a steady character. (Jüdische Zeitung (Germany))

'An admirable story'. (Periodista digital (Spain))

'A remarkable story'. (De Telegraaf (Holland))

A 'strange, brave and bracing story'. (Canberra Times)

Review

'This is a most important book, and a timely reminder of the dangers that face any society once intolerance and racism take hold.' -- Sir Martin Gilbert 'This memoir is an important contribution to a terrible chapter in history.' -- Daily Express 'Denis is a hero in time of terror, a man of limitless moral and physical courage.' -- Henry Kamm, New York Times correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner 'This is the most amazing Holocaust memoir it's been my good fortune to read...this is a beautiful, uplifting book about a real ben adom, a mensch, who saw evil and, instead of averting his eyes, did what he could to help the victims'. -- Washington Jewish Week 'an excellent memoir of survival.' -- Publishers Weekly 'A unique war story from a brave man.' -- Kirkus 'This is the incredible story of British soldier Denis Avey who broke into Auschwitz to uncover the horrors that were concealed there by the Nazis...This is a brutal account of what he experienced. There are some who doubt his story but don't let that ruin this extraordinary book.' -- Press Association 'THE MAN WHO BROKE INTO AUSCHWITZ will take your breath away.' -- La revista de Ana Rosa (Spain) 'What starts as an act of reportage then becomes a moving and ultimately triumphant story of survival.' -- Belfast Telegraph 'Exceptional'. -- Morgenpost (Germany) 'An astonishing heroic tale of a steady character.' -- Judische Zeitung (Germany) 'An admirable story'. -- Periodista digital (Spain) 'A remarkable story'. -- De Telegraaf (Holland) A 'strange, brave and bracing story'. -- Canberra Times

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
89 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what you might expect... 23 May 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I ordered this book having seen Mr Avey on a regional news program, and being fascinated with the idea of reading an account of someone who would willingly inter themselves in a Nazi death-camp.

When my copy arrived I was thrilled, looking forward to a really in-depth account of life for an intended victim of the holocaust, based on an eyewitness account.

Having fully read and digested this book, I won't tell anyone considering it NOT to purchase it, as it is fascinating. However, it is NOT a book about Auschwitz. Mr Avey's experiences in Auschwitz accounts for maybe 10% of this well written and thought provoking book.

As an account of the life, experiences, and aftermath of a Second World War combat veteran and POW, it is truly brilliant. From his experiences in the desert campaign, to his time in Auschwitz, through to how he eventually came to terms with what he saw, this is a book that anyone wanting to understand why intolerance and extremism cannot EVER be allowed to triumph must read.

So if you want to read an account of a man's life that will make you laugh, make you cry, make you question why we've not learnt the lessons of the past, read this book. If you want a comprehensive account of the processes and human tales of the holocaust, maybe try another book.

Still a 5 star read though, and definitely one to get!
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb story 4 April 2011
Format:Hardcover
This is an inspiring book. I have heard Denis Avey speaking. He is a dignified and genuine man, a true hero who only began to tell his life story recently and only when it was forced out of him by interviewers. I have read the first review on this page talking about Charles Coward and Coward's claims to have done exactly what Denis did in breaking into Auschwitz. Readers should be aware that there are major question marks over Coward's account. The book about his life, John Castle's 'The Password is Courage,' was, as Coward described it, a novelisation. The film was even further from the cold truth. Anyone seeking the truth should read the entries about Coward on the Norbert Wollheim archive website, which express doubts. Even more powerfully, former POW at the E715 camp, Doug Bond, is on the internet (in the Ex-POW Association newsletter) saying that Coward made up his experiences or borrowed them from other POWs. Bond says he talked to other ex-POWs at the camp and they shared his views. Anyone reading Denis Avey's book will understand that he was just the sort of man who would take enormous risks to try to set right a wrong. He has never walked past on the other side. Read the book. It is an amazing story and he is an amazing man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Certainly worth five stars. 24 Aug. 2013
Format:Paperback
There seem to be some very mixed reviews below. As with other readers I, too, thought it would devote more space to Auschwitz itself than it does, but on reflection I'm actually pleased that it doesn't. I got to read about one man's personal journey through WW2, and about his life after it ended. I wouldn't have chosen a book of that nature, as I'd have mistakenly thought I wouldn't find it interesting.

Those reviewers who criticise Avey for his tales of 'derring do', as a couple of people have phrased it, shame on you - as with so many soliders during WW2, this man did some pretty heroic things, and I think he deserves to have his moment, and feel proud. Even being there on the battlefield without cracking up is an achievement in itself, let alone being involved in all the missions he describes.

Another reviewer questioned his motives for going into Auschwitz, seemingly suggesting that it was a bit of a 'jolly' for him, something to break up the monotony. Avey himself explained that he wanted to witness it with his own eyes, and that was his reason for doing so. It's not his fault that the British public / military didn't want to know what he saw.

I'm so glad that writing this book has helped the author to put his demons to rest, and to live out the rest of his life in relative peace. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the world around us. It's a saddening tale of what human beings are capable of doing to one another in the name of war.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Denis Avery fought and was captured in North Africa, was torpedoed on an Italian POW ship, washed up and recaptured in Greece, transported to Auschwitz as slave labour, escaped on the deadly evacuation march out of Auschwitz, and then walked halfway across Europe to get to allied lines. His father was also a prisoner of war but the two of them never discussed their experiences and for approximately sixty years Avery didn't talk about his experiences to anyone. When he did he couldn't stop. At the centre of this story is his relationship to a Jewish prisoner for whom he acquires cigarettes to trade and two incidents where he swaps clothes with another prisoner in order to see for himself the terrible plight of the Jewish prisoners. All the arbitrary inhumanity is here but perhaps epitomized by an SS guard that punches a baby in the face with all his might to silence it's crying. The prisoner that Avery helps eventually survives and gives four hours of testimony to the Shoah Foundation in which he remembers Avery' s help (the entire content of which can be found on YouTube). As an addition to literature witnessing The Holocaust this is clearly a worthy book that I value having read. That said it has been constructed out of extensive interviews in collaboration with a journalist and as such it lacks the sort of literary punch you get with writers like Primo Levi or Elie Wiesel - in particular I found the stuff on North Africa dragged. This book demonstrates Amnesty International's dictum that it is better to light one candle than curse the darkness.
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