Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Breaking INTO Auschwitz

The Daily Dish had an interesting link today to a Times Online article about Denis Avey, a British POW who in 1944 was interned at a small POW on the outskirts of Auschwitz. The Jewish camp was several miles to the west of his own camp, but according to Avey, everyone knew "the Stripeys" (as they called the Jewish prisoners, due to their uniforms) were being treated terribly.

Basically, the story is that Avey became friends with a Jewish prisoner, Ernst Lobethall, who worked beside him at the IG Farben factory. Avey was able to get his mother to contact the sister, who sent 200 cigarettes through the Red Cross. Miraculously, those cigs made it to Avey who got them to Ernst, which basically made Ernst rich at the Jewish camp and helped him survive. It also helped Ernst and Avey bribe Avey's way into the camp. Where Avey says he intended to bear witness.

“Despite the danger, I knew I had to bear witness,” Avey says. “As Albert
Einstein said: the world can be an evil place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing. I’ve never been one to do

This is a pretty remarkable story. As the Dish notes, it's good to take the time every now and then and remember just how easy our generation has things. The most remarkable part of this story to us, is that Avey is not the only person to do this. Apparently there was another British POW, Charlie Coward, who was anything but. Coward did the same thing and later testified at the IG Farben trial at Nuremberg. His story was made into a movie: The Password is Courage.

All in all, a compelling story within a very dary and twisted one.

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