The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 7 Oct 2015
Full Title: The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz: A True Story of World War II
Avey was a soldier who saw action in North Africa with the British Army 7th Armoured Division. Upon being captured, he became a prisoner of war at camp E715A in occupied Poland near the forced labor camp of Monowitz, which was a part of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp complex. On two occasions, he exchanged prison uniforms with a Jewish friend he made while in imprisonment, Ernst Lobethal, who was a prisoner of the Auschwitz extermination camp. The inhumanity he witnessed would become the main source of his post-traumatic stress disorder after the war, more so than the experience of combat with the British Army. The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz, published in 2012, was Avey's memoir. His Auschwitz experience was easily the most powerful portions of the book, while his post war tales in the final chapters put me on an emotional roller coaster ride. Memoirs were necessary biased thus could not be regarded as reliable works of history. However, like many other WW2-era memoirs, this book provided a glimpse into the horror of the Holocaust, through the memories of Avey and partially through the memories of Lobethal, reminding me that the victims of the Holocaust were not merely statistics, but they were people with names and faces.
I had reviewed this memoir in its audio book format. James Langton's performance was superb, his narration a convincing aged British Army veteran reliving his memories.
While The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz could not challenge other Auschwitz-related memoirs such as Elie Wiesel's Night, it would still be of interest to those interested in human stories of the Holocaust.
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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944