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March 18th 2010 Simone Veil

The man who smuggled himself into Auschwitz …

The man who smuggled himself into Auschwitz
Children in Auschwitz
More than a million people died in Auschwitz

By Rob Broomby
BBC News

When millions would have done anything to get out, one remarkable British soldier smuggled himself into Auschwitz to witness the horror so he could tell others the truth.

Denis Avey is a remarkable man by any measure. A courageous and determined soldier in World War II, he was captured by the Germans and imprisoned in a camp connected to the Germans’ largest concentration camp, Auschwitz.

But his actions while in the camp – which he has never spoken about until now – are truly extraordinary. When millions would have done anything to get out, Mr Avey repeatedly smuggled himself into the camp.

Denis Avey: “They knew they’d only last five months”

Now 91 and living in Derbyshire, he says he wanted to witness what was going on inside and find out the truth about the gas chambers, so he could tell others. He knows he took “a hell of a chance”.

“When you think about it in today’s environment it is ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous,” he says.

“You wouldn’t think anyone would think or do that, but that is how I was. I had red hair and a temperament to match. Nothing would stop me.”

He arranged to swap for one night at a time with a Jewish inmate he had come to trust. He exchanged his uniform for the filthy, stripy garments the man had to wear. For the Auschwitz inmate it meant valuable food and rest in the British camp, while for Denis it was a chance to gather facts on the inside.


He describes Auschwitz as “hell on earth” and says he would lie awake at night listening to the ramblings and screams of prisoners.

“It was pretty ghastly at night, you got this terrible stench,” he says.

He talked to Jewish prisoners but says they rarely spoke of their previous life, instead they were focused on the hell they were living and the work they were forced to do in factories outside the camp.

Listen to Denis Avey’s story on BBC News 24 throughout Sunday and on Broadcasting House, BBC Radio 4 at 0900 GMT.
Or listen to it here later

“There were nearly three million human beings worked to death in different factories,” says Mr Avey. “They knew at that rate they’d last about five months.

“They very seldom talk about their civil life. They only talked about the situation, the punishments they were getting, the work they were made to do.”

He says he would ask where people he’d met previously had gone and he would be told they’d “gone up the chimney”.

“It was so impersonal. Auschwitz was evil, everything about it was wrong.”

He also witnessed the brutality meted out to the prisoners, saying people were shot daily. He was determined to help, especially when he met Jewish prisoner Ernst Lobethall.

‘Bloody marvellous’

Mr Lobethall told him he had a sister Susana who had escaped to England as a child, on the eve of war. Back in his own camp, Mr Avey contacted her via a coded letter to his mother.

He arranged for cigarettes, chocolate and a letter from Susana to be sent to him and smuggled them to his friend. Cigarettes were more valuable than gold in the camp and he hoped he would be able to trade them for favours to ease his plight – and he was right.

Auschwitz prisoner’s sister meets man who helped save him

Mr Lobethall traded two packs of Players cigarettes in return for getting his shoes resoled. It helped save his life when thousands perished or were murdered on the notorious death marches out of the camps in winter in 1945.

Mr Avey briefly met Susana Lobethall in 1945, when he came home from the war. He was fresh from the camp and was traumatised by what he’d witnessed and endured.

At the time both of them thought Ernst was dead. He’d actually survived, thanks – in part – to the smuggled cigarettes. But she lost touch with Mr Avey and was never able to tell him the good news.

The BBC has now reunited the pair after tracing Susana, who is now Susana Timms and lives in the Midlands. Mr Avey was told his friend moved to America after the war, where he had children and lived a long and happy life. The old soldier says the news is “bloody marvellous”.


Sadly, the emotional reunion came too late for Ernst – later Ernie – who died never even knowing the real name of the soldier who he says helped him survive Auschwitz.

But before he died Mr Lobethall recorded his survival story on video for the Shoah Foundation, which video the testimonies of Holocaust survivors and witnesses. In it he spoke of his friendship with a British soldier in Auschwitz who he simply called “Ginger”. It was Denis.
Ernst Lobethall
Ernest Lobethall moved to the US

He also recalled how the cigarettes, chocolate and a letter from his sister in England were smuggled to him in the midst of war.

“It was like being given the Rockefeller Centre,” he says in the video.

Mr Avey traded places twice and slept overnight in Auschwitz. He tried a third time but he was almost caught and the plan was aborted.

He suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when he came back from the war and has only recently been able to speak about what he did and what he saw.

He admits some may find it hard to believe and acknowledges it was “foolhardy”.

“But that is how I was,” he simply says.

Europe, languages, literature and art


[…]L’Europe comme fédération d’étrangetés respectées : tel est mon rêve.

[…] j’aimerais insister sur le multilinguisme comme signe distinctif de la culture européenne, et sur le sens que ce fait revêt dans les tensions internationales actuelles.

[…]Une nouvelle espèce émerge peu à peu : un sujet polyphonique, citoyen polyglotte d’une Europe plurinationale. Le futur Européen sera-t-il un sujet singulier, au psychisme intrinsèquement pluriel parce que trilingue, quadrilingue, multilingue ? Ou se réduira-t-il au globish ? Un exemple : le département de langue et littérature de Georgetown University a fêté son cinquantième anniversaire en 2000. A la question « Comment répondre à la Shoah ? », le doyen jésuite a répondu : « En enseignant les langues et les littératures ». […]

L’Europe est un pari sur la traduction possible des diversités, et pour commencer linguistiques. Pour ma part, c’est dans le multilinguisme que je chercherais le fondement d’une nouvelle laïcité qui saura faire face aux heurts des religions.

JULIA KRISTEVA,16 septembre 2008

Victor Hugo’s drawing

use of the conditional- under construction

fragments from published e-twinning work

My picture

Marie ANDRE-MILESI Marie.Milesi@ac-besancon.fr

School Icon Collège Lucie Aubrac, PONTARLIER, FRANCE Académie de Besançon.



Anastasie, Emilien,Julie, Juliette, Laura introduce the Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation

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We were shocked by the horror of the photographs which are testimonies of torture and experiments made in the concentration camps when Americans arrived.  Most of the experiments were done on people because of their belonging to the Jewish religion and /or because they were Jews (Jewish)

We could for example see children’ s clothes and people’s hair. It was of the utmost violence and extremely difficult to watch!

As …

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Caroline D is writing about our visit to the Museum of the Resistance in Besançon

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Who is taking care of the premises?

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PictureJust have a guess or guesses!

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Vallée de Gustave Courbet or The Loue Valley

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PictureLa vallée de la Loue is peopled with strange shapes, fauna and flora alike which were

the pride of Gustave Courbet whose paintings are still questioning our twenty-first century eye and

sense of beauty.


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Visit of ElemenTerre in our school

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ASSOCIATION ACE ENVIRONNEMENT Présentation de l’opération ElemenTerre, destinée aux collégiens …

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Porte Saint Pierre, Pontarlier and lac Saint Point

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La porte St Pierre à Pontarlier

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Deux mille Neuf! 2009 wishes

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Picture2009 wishes !

Note our new postal address:

Collège Lucie Aubrac

BP 25 25300 DOUBS France


Lake Saint Point

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PictureOnce upon a time, there  was a very beautiful valley with lots of nice and cosy houses, colourful and scented flowers.

In this very beautilful village, there was a lady who had  to feed seven children. She was living on her own with them. The crops were scarce, the wheat was scarce, the barley was scarce, the potatoe crop was scarce… Winter had been harsh and she was left with no food.

She had no food, no bread, no vegetables, nothing to give them.  …

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Who are we 4°2 Collège AUBRAC DOUBS

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Who are we?

We are


Fredrika: Buddharama Temple

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PictureBudharama tempel in Fredrika

By Maritza

The buddhist are going to build a temple in Fredrika  It will be the biggest temple in Europe. Phramha Boonthin Taosiri, the chief monk in Sweden, decided that in 2004. We are not Buddhist in Fredrika, but many Thai people come here every summer to pick berries and sell.  They have not started building the temple yet, but there is a big monk statue and a golden Buddha statue on the Temple Mountain. Every summer they have ceremonies and festivals where they collect money for the temple.


Fredrika: Four seasons

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PictureFour seasons

by Wictor

We have a temperate climate, which means that we have four very different seasons. Since we live in the northern part of Sweden, we have very long winters and short summers. Here are some short summaries about our four seasons.

Winter – November to February

Our climate is cold and icy in the winter. And we have long, dark and cold nights. The weather is clear and consists of sunlight and ice-cold temperatures.  The temperatures sometimes reaches -40° Celsius (which is rare in the most parts of Sweden), but normally it is -10° to -20° Celsius. Sometimes, you don’t want to go outside due to the cold because it hurts to breath cold air, but after a while you get used to it.

Spring – March to May

It’s snowy and around 0° Celsius on the spring. It’s not very cold, and the snow usually melts down, and freezes again during cold nights. We normally have snow left on the ground until the end of April.

Summer – June to August

The summer is most of the time pretty warm. It is around 20°Celsius to 28°Celsius. Sometimes it rains and sometimes we have chilly winds, even in the summer. The most special about our summers are the bright nights. We have midnight sun during June and July, and it is quite intense and a powerful brightness over the sky.

Autumn – September to October

Our autumn is quite short, but yet so cold and rainy. We have cloudy weather during the short autumn.  Our broad-leaved trees become very colorful during the autumn, almost glaring the yellow, orange and red colors on the leaves.

Accueil Fredrika – Cultural Identity Fredrika – Natural Identity FUERTEVENTURA FUERTEVENTURA HISTORY FUERTEVENTURA NATURAL IDENTITY Lower Silesia Poland The Natural and Cultural Identity of Lower Silesia Poland


Fredrika; The Sami

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The Sámi people

By Wictor

The Sámi people is an ethnical minority in Sweden. They are a national group, and they see themselves as one people, even if they live in different geographical countries. The total population of the Sámi people is around 80 000-135 000, but only 20 000 of them live in Sweden.

The Sámi peoples work can be divided into three divisions. The first division is reindeer herding, the second fishing (mainly in Norway and Russia) and the third is everything else except reindeer herding and fishing.

The reindeer herding is an old part of the Sámi culture, and 10 % of the total population practices reindeer herding. In Sweden only  Sámi are allowed to practice reindeer herding. They are nomades and move with the reindeers; in the summer, they live up in the mountains and in the winter in the forest region, like here around Fredrika. They’re using modern technology, like helicopters, snowmobiles and so on.

Thibault 4°2 Lucie Aubrac 2008-2009


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