Friday, 29 May 2015

The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz - Denis Avey

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.

Denis Avey was being held in a POW labour camp 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 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.

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. 


I originally picked this book up in our local Tesco's,  They have a charity bookshelf where for a small donation to their chosen charity, this year being Diabetes UK, you can find some pretty good books. 
I think there is also an element of people getting rid of any books that they enjoyed but wouldn't read again as well as those that they didn't finish and probably never likely to and of course those that were that bad they couldn't wait to put them out for the charity shop.

My father in law has a keen interest in the first and second world wars and if I spot any books I tend to pick them up for him for when he visits.  And that is how I came to have a copy of this book.  Father in law will be due to visit at some point soon so I thought I should move it up the reading list so that I can pass it on.  

The first 100 pages of Denis Avey's  account are of his time in service and takes you up to the point where he becomes a POW.  He is put in a camp next to Auschwitz III.  He has seen the prisoners in their stripe pyjamas, with the Star of David, through the fence and he has heard the stories of what goes on within the camp, then he makes a decision to see for himself. He arranges to change places with a stripy prisoner not once  but twice in order to see first hand what goes on behind the fence. There was always the possibility that the stripy wouldn't turn up to change back but as the consequences of being found out were worse he did meet at the elected time and place to return to Auschwitz III. From page 169 Denis Avey continues his story after they have left the camp for the last time. From this point he continues to tell you of his journey back to blighty and how he adjusted to being back in England.


Did I enjoy this book?  I think from the very nature of the book you couldn't say that you enjoyed it. It was certainly informative and I think my father in law will be pleased with it. My only criticism would be that the title of the book suggests that it will be more about the time he spent in Auschwitz but that is only a very small proportion in comparison to  the before and after sections.
I still and always will have the deepest respect for those who spent time in the camps and lived to tell the tale the likes of which we would hope would never happen again.


So what next?

My next post will be my end of May round up with a quick look back at the books I have read over the month of May and which have been my favourites. Then of course I will have to decide which will be my book of the month which is going to be a hard decision to make again this month.

As always happy reading one & all



  1. I have just finished Narrow Road to the Deep North which was an excellent read but rather harrowing at times. Your book sounds interesting but I feel in need of some light reading at the moment!

    1. I have a feeling that I have seen this book but not had a look at it yet. May be I will wait and see what you thought of it. I always look for something of an easy read when I've read one that's quite harrowing. I had the same thing after reading The Kid by Sapphire.


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