Summary and book reviews of The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz by Denis Avey

The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz

A True Story of World War II

by Denis Avey, Rob Broomby

The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz by Denis Avey, Rob Broomby X
The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz by Denis Avey, Rob Broomby
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2011, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2012, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz is the extraordinary story of a British soldier who marched willingly into the concentration camp known as Auschwitz III, to testify at first hand the atrocities occurring in the camp.

The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz is the extraordinary true story of a British soldier who marched willingly into the concentration camp, Buna-Monowitz, known as Auschwitz III.

In the summer of 1944, Denis Avey was being held in a British 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 labor.

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.

Editor's note: There has been some debate among critics and historians as to the accuracy of Denis Avey's account of his experiences in Auschwitz III. To find out more, check out the video interview with Avey in which he defends his work.

Chapter 1

I never joined up to fight for King and Country, though I was patriotic enough. No, I enlisted for the sheer hell of it, for the adventure. I had no idea how much hell there would be.

There was no sense of heroic departure when I went off to war. We left Liverpool on the troopship Otranto on a bright August morning in 1940 with no idea where we were headed.

I looked at the Royal Liver Building, across the broadening strip of brown Mersey water and wondered whether I would ever see the green Liver birds crowning it again. Liverpool had not seen much bombing then. It would get its share a month after I left, but for now it was largely a peaceful city. I was twenty-one years old and I felt indestructible. If I lose a limb, I promised myself, I am not coming home. I was a red-headed soldier with a temperament to match and it would get me into lots of trouble but that is just how I was.

I joined the army because I was in too much of a rush to join the RAF. The ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz has an eye-catching title and jacket copy, but each does the author a disservice. The exchange highlighted so prominently encompasses only 15 pages of the narrative, and it's a bit of a letdown compared to the rest of the author's experiences. This is a fascinating memoir that certainly engages the mind, if not the soul; it answers the question, "What happened?" as opposed to "What was it like?" Those who enjoy wartime chronicles will undoubtedly find much of interest in its pages. Is it a stand-out example of its genre? Not necessarily, but it is definitely an excellent addition to it.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review (759 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

Media Reviews

Deseret News
Simple, moving, and gripping story that puts one into the death camps and on the death march.

Press Association (UK)
There are some who doubt his story but don't let that ruin this extraordinary book.

News of the World (UK)
His descriptions are terrifyingly vivid. His bravery in saving the life of a Jewish prisoner is inspiring

Publishers Weekly
An excellent memoir of survival.

Kirkus Reviews
[A] plainspoken, moving story… a unique war story from a brave man.

Canberra Times (Australia)
[A] strange, brave and bracing story.

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

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

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

IG Farben Industries

Auschwitz was a huge complex that covered 40 square kilometers (25 square miles) near the town of Oswiecim, Poland. It was comprised of three sections: Auschwitz I, the base camp and central office; Auschwitz II, aka Birkenau, a concentration camp and crematorium; and Auschwitz III, aka Monowitz or Monowitz-Buna, a labor camp adjacent to a factory owned by IG Farben Industries where synthetic fuel and rubber were produced.

IG Farben FactoryIG Farben Industries was a German firm formed in 1925 by the merger of six separate companies. Originally specializing in dyes, the company branched out into synthetics, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals over time. It grew along with Germany's Nazi Party, contributing heavily to it and working closely with party ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz, try these:

  • The Volunteer jacket

    The Volunteer

    by Jack Fairweather

    Published 2019

    About this book

    The incredible true story of a Polish resistance fighter's infiltration of Auschwitz to sabotage the camp from within, and his daring escape to warn the Allies about the Nazis' true plans for a "Final Solution."

  • Zero Night jacket

    Zero Night

    by Mark Felton

    Published 2015

    About this book

    On August 30, 1942 - 'Zero Night' - 40 Allied officers staged the most audacious mass escape of World War II. Told with a novelist's eye for drama and detail, this rip-roaring adventure is all the more thrilling because it really happened.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Fake Like Me
    Fake Like Me
    by Barbara Bourland
    After years of trying to make it as a painter in New York City, the unnamed narrator of Fake Like Me...
  • Book Jacket: Hungry
    Hungry
    by Jeff Gordinier
    Noma, René Redzepi's restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, has widely been considered among the ...
  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...
  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.