A Bradwell man who wrote a bestselling book chronicling the inhumanity of one of the Nazi’s most notorious death-camps has died, aged 96.
In 1944, when Denis Avey was a prisoner of war in a camp next to Auschwitz, he swapped places with a Dutch Jew in order to get first hand knowledge of the full extent of the German government’s crimes.
In 2011, he wrote the memoir, The Man Who Broke into Auschwitz, about his exploits.
Speaking in 2011, Denis said: “I was determined to witness what I could so that one day the perpetrators would be held to account.”
Knowing something horrific was going on behind the barbed wire fences but unsure exactly what, Denis did the unthinkable.
He shaved his head, smeared dirt on his face, swapped uniforms with an inmate and went into Auschwitz.
While there, he slept alongside the Jewish prisoners, three to a bunk, in order to discover the names of the people who he knew needed to be held to account for their actions.
In his book, Denis wrote: “They sucked the life and labour from each exhausted man and when he was spent, he was sent to be killed.”
“Hearsay had no value, we didn’t know how these camps would be wound up or who would be left at the end of the war to say these crimes had happened at all.”
Denis was born in Essex in 1919 but moved to Bradwell with his second wife where he lived for the rest of his life.