Segments in this Video

Introduction: Witness to Auschwitz (02:38)


Denis Avey received the British Hero of the Holocaust award because he saved the life of a Jewish prisoner. Critics dispute Avey’s claim that he smuggled himself into Auschwitz to gather firsthand knowledge of the treatment of the Jews. The Germans captured Avey in North Africa. (Credits)

Prisoner of War (02:31)

The Nazis detained Avey at a camp next to Auschwitz and forced him to build a factory for IG Farben with the "stripies." Because Ave smuggled cigarettes to a man named Ernst, the Jewish inmate was able to get his boots fixed, which saved his life on a death march.

Idea to Break In (04:26)

Avey spoke with a "stripey" named Hans who looked similar to him, and asked to trade places. There were multiple concentration camps named Auschwitz around the city of Oswiecim. He bribed the Kapo with cigarettes and made sure his head was shaved.

Could Avey Break into Auschwitz (04:19)

Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz describes how little remains of the original concentration camp. Prisoners of war looked much healthier than Jews in concentration camps. Brian Bishop explains why he is critical of Avey's account.

Avey's Silence After the War (03:06)

Matthias Reiss explains that after the war was over, soldiers and civilians did not want to talk about the atrocities. Avey claims that he was unaware of the Nuremberg Trials. Avey finally spoke about his experiences in 2001.

The Story Changed (03:33)

Lynn Smith of the Imperial War Museum explains that there were discrepancies in Avey's story. Avey claims he misspoke. Rob Broomby, a BBC journalist and co-author of Avey's book, believes Avey's account.

Firsthand Accounts (04:31)

Reiss describes the importance of accuracy in personal accounts of Auschwitz. Avey celebrates his 93rd Birthday and speaks at the Nicky Alliance Day Center. Holocaust survivors discuss their experiences and argue about the veracity of Avey's account.

Do Not Blame the Witnesses (03:23)

Experts debate the merits and disadvantages to firsthand accounts. Avey is glad he came forward and told his story.

Credits: Witness to Auschwitz (00:43)

Credits: Witness to Auschwitz

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Witness to Auschwitz

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With so few survivors of the Holocaust left to share their first-hand testimony, what is the right approach to those with accounts that cannot be proved? Ninety-three-year-old Denis Avey is a British hero of the Holocaust who helped save the life of an Auschwitz inmate. He wrote about this heroic act, verified by the man he saved, in a best-selling book. But its publication generated a heated debate. That's because Denis also claimed to have broken in to the Nazi concentration camp itself. Why would anyone do such a thing and was it even possible? Witness to Auschwitz examines the controversy surrounding this latest Holocaust account and asks why is it so important to know the truth?

Length: 30 minutes

Item#: BVL125023

ISBN: 978-1-64023-044-6

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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