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The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz: A True Story of World War II

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  3,726 Ratings  ·  474 Reviews
While millions would have done anything to escape, one remarkable British soldier smuggled himself into Auschwitz to witness the horror and tell others the truth.
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Da Capo Press (first published May 26th 2010)
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Bettie☯
Description: The almost unbelievable story of Denis Avey, now 92, began in 1944 when he was captured and sent to a POW work camp. He was put to work every day in a German factory, where he labored alongside Jewish prisoners from a nearby camp called Auschwitz. The stories they told him were horrifying. Eventually Avey's curiosity, kind-heartedness, derring-do, and perhaps foolhardiness drove him to suggest--and remarkably manage--switching places with two of the Jewish prisoners in order to spen ...more
Joke
This book was a disappiontment. Before I start reading, I expected That the story was going to be about Auschwitz. But more than 50 pages was about the desert. When Denis' finally arrived in Auschwitz, I discovered That he only pretended to be jewish for 2nights. About This experience, he wrote ten pages And That was it. The book was good but it goed you an idea about soldiers in world war two And not really about the jewish. I think the book has a wrong title And a wrong plot. To discribe This ...more
Michael
Oct 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Brenda
A fascinating, emotionally charged tale of the horrors, sorrows and anguish experienced by Denis Avey’s and his time in World War II, being captured by the Germans and the difference between the POW’s and the Jews in Auschwitz. The story starts before the war and goes through all the experiences from training for the war, fight, being a prisoner and life afterwards. He talks not only about the problems, but the friendships he made. One in particular was a friendship he made with one of the Jewis ...more
Kim
I'm in two minds about this book. On one hand it's a very sad, bleak but honest description of the horrors of war and the horrible suffering of the victims of the Nazi regime. On the other it's the biography of a man who really doesn't seem very likeable.

The Holocaust and other atrocities committed by the Axis powers (as well as some Allied actions) are some of the darkest blights in mankind's history. For those who went through it their experiences are unimaginable. The horror, the misery, the
...more
Starlet Laura
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust, wwii
I read a lot of books (listen) on WWII and the Holocaust, so this one was of interest to me – especially reading about someone who chose to break into Auschwitz – I had not read of anyone doing that (except for the Boy in the Striped Pajamas – but that was unwittingly). I enjoyed The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz from beginning to end but just to let you know that the first half of the download focused mainly about his start in the war – leading up to his time in the Italian POW camp for the Brit ...more
Oliver
Dec 24, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
By the time I was half-way through this book I had serious concerns it contained a great deal of fiction. Too many small details remembered, too many unbelievable events, too much just didn't sit right. I went to do some research and was not surprised to learn that the book had caused a fair amount of controversy, mainly for the fact that Avey has apparently given long interviews and never mentioned the swap, and has also allegedly contradicted himself on several occasions.

Of course, I can't be
...more
Licinia
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leituras-2017
Até à pagina número 100 li sem grande interesse, não tinha a ver com o que me fez comprar o livro. A partir daí o livro ficou interessante embora eu ache que deveria ter tido mais enfoque na troca e o que Denis possa ter experenciado no campo de Auschwitz...afinal ele trocou duas vezes com Hans, por uma noite e viu o que comiam e como dormiam...falou com os colegas de Ernie que partilhavam com ele a mesma cama. Embora ele visse como era o dia-a-dia de trabalho exaustivo dos "risquinhas" como ele ...more
Tweedledum
What an amazing story! Denis Avey! A British POW shipped to a camp in Poland as a "difficult" prisoner found himself mysteriously working alongside prisoners who were even lower down the pecking order at IG Farben and wearing striped pyjamas. These pitiful individuals were marched off to a separate camp at the end of each day. Avey determined to find out more and persuaded Ernst Lobethal to change places with him for 24 hours.

Avey managed to get a letter through to Ernst sister in Birmingham an
...more
Maree
Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a personal account of a soldier during world war II, and while it focuses on how he was a POW working in the same fields as Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz, it also tells about his time before that, when he was captured by the Afrika corps, when he was wandering around Greece and Italy, and serving in Egypt. But the tale of how he switched out with a Jewish prisoner not once but twice, just for a night, is the central draw of the story.

I'm not really big on history and nonfiction, esp
...more
Kevin Brownsey
May 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sure most of this account is true but as far as the Auschwitz swap is concerned I'm afraid I don't believe it. Most of the book is full of detail but the Auschwitz swap is covered in a few pages of description most people could write having watched a few films of this awful atrocity.This reads to me like a story of the war career the author wished he'd had not the one he actually had. Reading this book you would think Mr Avey single handedly won the war and revealed the truth about Auschwitz ...more
Brenton
Contrary to what the title suggests, this book has little to do with Auschwitz. It's a desultory memoir of a British POW recounting his war years. He claims to have switched places with a Jewish inmate at Auschwitz and gained entrance to the notorious prison camp with the express purpose of reporting what conditions were like inside the camp. Strangely, he doesn't report anything until this book, published more than 60 years later. Coupled with the fact that it's difficult to imagine one sneakin ...more
Kriegslok
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had this book marked down as one to pick up from time to time and read a few pages and finish in a month or two. Didn't quite work like that. Couldn't put it down. Human conflict has always tended to bring out the best and worst in people and WWII excelled in bringing out the very worst in some people. Surviving was tough and you needed to be damn tough to survive what Denis Avey did yet as he is at pains to tell in this book his suffering while unimaginable to most of us today was far exceede ...more
Andreas
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A very interesting and personal story of a British soldier during World War II who was kept as prisoner of war (POW) near Auschwitz. The first part of the book covers his experiences in the desert of Africa where he fought against Italians and Germans. It's almost impossible to imagine what it must have been like to be there but the author gives a detailed and authentic picture. While I respect his braveness I must confess that I don't find him very likeable. Only a good portion of luck let him ...more
Mike
Avey is an exceptionally admirable man (even more so because he doesn't flinch from the difficult decisions he made) and will remain so even if his controversial claim of role-swapping with a Jewish prisoner of Auschwitz is untrue or distorted by time and memory (see here and here ; for what it's worth, I give him the benefit of the doubt). Stripped of the prison-swap his story could be told by any number of WWII survivors, but that doesn't lessen his own story's power.

The book itself needs m
...more
Desiree
The beginning is very technical. One must be able to translate military jargon in order to fully grasp the situations described. I was able to get the gist but I'm pretty sure I missed a lot.

The Auschwitz portion wasn't as hard hitting as I expected. There's no real sense of time passing, thus I didn't grasp how long he spent there. He also seemed egocentric, as though it was necessary for him to switch places with one of the Jewish prisoners in order for him to believe that they were being trea
...more
Brenda
Jun 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book has been brilliantly written! Denis Avey, along with Rob Broomby, let me feel the emotion, the horror, sorrow, heartache, anguish, everything that Denis went through in those horrible years!

Denis tells of his early life as a youngster, training for the war, then heading over to fight. He tells of the mate he went with, Les, how he'd grown up with him, dated his sister, the hardship they went through together.

When he eventually was caught, and became a POW, there is the story of the shi
...more
Wendy
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
From Amazon:
"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
...more
Julie
Nov 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went to pick this one up at the local library, and ran into one of my friends who did suggest that this may not be the book to break into on the day, which is true. I always do like a memoir and I had read about this in blogland.



We get to hear about Denis growing up before war intervened, and his service in North Africa. As a prisoner of war he found himself working in a factory in Poland alongside concentration camp inmates from Auschwitz. Wanting to see conditions for himself, on two separat
...more
Ann
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was an interesting. At first, I didn't understand the back story that was in the first part of the book, but then as it progressed it made sense. Here's a story of an average guy, a POW for the Allied forces, who sensed that even though his treatment was cruel & sub par, he found out that the treatment of the men and women next door at Auschwitz was inhumane.
The thing about the Holocaust that I don't understand is how the Germans were able to succeed in persecuting so many people.
...more
Tomi
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had to stop reading a couple of times because I was so emotionally involved. There has been some controversy over whether Mr. Avey actually experienced all these things. However, whether he did or not, the events did occur. His book pours more light onto the Nazi crimes.
Paul
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You read this and wish it was fiction, but human depravity cannot be wished away. Auschwitz was real.

People think it could never happen here. Don't you believe it; it doesn't take much.
Stew
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story i think everyone should read, though it's tough to read in parts. These sort of horrors can't be forgotten, to make sure they're never repeated.
Franky
Apr 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s difficult for me to review this novel because I do think it is an important book and I would recommend it, although with some reservations. There are moving points in Avey’s narrative, especially towards the end (which is undoubtedly the most moving and important part of Avey’s memoir). However, clearly the book’s title is misleading, its focal point being Avey addressing and coming to terms with what he witnessed at Auschwitz and the camps in the aftermath of his experience, as well as his ...more
Jackie
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The number of survivors of WWII are dwindling away. How grateful I am for those who tell the tale. That particular time in history should never be repeated. Mr. Avey completed an incredible journey - keeping his hope and love for fellow man alive. Would that we could all follow his example. We should never forget - in order to never again commit those atrocities. This should be required reading for all.

Memorable passages:

"It was days before I was able to reflect on those hours in Auschwitz III a
...more
Toni Osborne
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true Story of World War 11

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 f
...more
Filipe Miguel
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history, memoir
Denis Avey, nascido em 1919, foi um soldado britânico que lutou no deserto africano durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial. Após um suposto naufrágio e tentativa de fuga, acabou capturado e viu-se preso num campo de concentração em Auschwitz, Polónia: o Auschwitz III. Durante o cativeiro, arriscou a vida e trocou o seu uniforme, garantia de (alguma) protecção segundo a Convenção de Genebra, com um prisioneiro judeu. Se me pedissem para resumir rapidamente o que li, seria isto.

O livro foi escrito pela
...more
Christian, Kelanth, Scala
Prima di tutto una precisazione: questo è solo parzialmente un libro che parla di Auschwitz, diciamo la parte centrale, il resto del libro parla di guerra e di prigionia, non espressamente di campi di concentramento.
La scelta dell'entrata volontaria nel campo di Auschwitz in effetti poi si riduce a poche paginette, che descrivono le solo due notti passate dall'autore nel distaccamento del campo di Monowitz. Dunque non so bene come valutare la scelta del titolo: pura scelta commerciale/editoriale
...more
Shelley Daugherty
This was a fascinating story that had my attention from the very beginning. The true story of one soldier who did what he could to try to make the life of another human being better, just because he felt someone must bear witness to the atrocities that went on in Auschwitz. The one thing I really enjoyed was the honest way Denis shares his experience as only a person can 70 years after going through this horrible ordeal.

Denis tells his story from the very beginning of his military career so don
...more
Christine Van Heertum
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Based on some inconsistancies in the telling, historians claimed that the story in the book is not true. Avey Denis, a British prisoner of war in a camp next to Auschwitz III-Monowitz, tells how he tried to help Ernie, a Jewish prisoner, and even exchanged his place with Ernie's, inside the concentration camp, so that he could witness human barbarity. Avey, whose nickname was Ginger, describes the inscription « Arbeit macht frei » at the entrance of the camp, but according to some historians, su ...more
Jan
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do love non-fiction that reads like fiction. This is the most remarkable story of a British soldier, Denis Avey, who was captured by the Germans and sent to a POW camp. After several attempted escapes, he ends up at a POW camp near Auschwitz and the IG Farben factory. He is forced to labor at the Farben factory, along with Jewish inmates of Auschwitz. Denis is the kind of man who cannot rest in the face of injustice. He decides to contact an Auschwitz inmate and switch places with him for a da ...more
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“The mind is a powerful thing. It can take you through walls.” 20 likes
“They say 'stone walls do not a prison make nor iron bars a cage'. It was a quotation I knew as a boy. I had made it my own back then. I knew they couldn't capture my mind. Whilst I could still think, I was free.” 5 likes
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