I’m sure it was exactly as the publishers anticipated.
The title grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go: “The man who broke into Auschwitz”. It is a stain on human history that the Holocaust happened at all, amongst a people who were otherwise refined by culture, music, art and thinking.
Nobody who visits Auschwitz comes out of the place cracking jokes. It is a most solemn contemplation of the evil that men are capable, on an industrial scale.
Denis Avey was a British soldier who fought in WW2 in North Africa and was captured by the Italians and after a brief escape, the Wermacht. The telling of his tale is compelling and strange enough to actually be true.
In his obituary, written by the Telegraph, the writer casts a smidge of doubt on the central thesis of his book – that for a short time he swapped places with a Jewish prisoner and experienced the full spiteful wrath of a government pogrom in order to be a witness to history so that he could testify about it.
There is humour and British pluck in the midst of the account. It brings a smile to my face even now as Avey recounts a dysentery outbreak in a prison camp, and the ditch that the Italians had dug for the prisoners to do their business, how a skinny prisoner leaned too far back and fell in, and declared in absolute frustration that it was the second time that day he had fallen in.
And the time Avey and a chum were shuffling back to the POW camp near Auschwitz after working at the IG Farben factory with the chum hiding a (dead) chicken in his pants. The smuggling effort busted, and having to explain to the commandant through a translator…the cheeky blighter claimed that it was self-defence and the chicken had attacked him. They escaped punishment for that big slice of wit.
The whole episode of Auschwitz reminds me of a talk by R.C. Sproul – who has since passed on – and who tried to explore the nature of evil and more particularly where it came from.
Evil could not have come from God, and from this starting point, Sproul discussed theodicy: a defense of God in the light of evil and its existence.
This is a timely question to ask however neither Sproul nor his mentor has been able to explain precisely where evil comes from. We just know that it exists.
A school shooting in Florida, and half of our American cousins on social media level blame at the NRA and hyperventilate about gun laws.
The large elephant in the room is human evil and perhaps it’s too philosophical (or even theological) to examine the question about evil and the destructive proclivities of the shooter. Easier to lobby the least intellectual members of Congress to pass a law, any law. Ready, fire, Aim!
I’ll wager that R.C. Sproul, having entered into the presence of the Lord in eternity, has finally learned the mystery of human evil, and fully experienced the present grace of the Lord, that makes a way for us.