The man who broke into Auschwitz.
When he was captured in France in 1940 Sergeant-Major Charles Coward launched his own private war against the Germans (although he was being held as a prisoner-of-war). For several years he was the most incredible amateur espionage and sabotage agent of World War Two, opposing the Nazis while sending back vital information to England.
He escaped from captivity nine times and was, eventually, sent to Auschwitz III (a labour camp just five miles from Auschwitz II, the extermination camp). He carried guns and dynamite for the Polish underground movement, traded in dead bodies (by swapping the corpses of dead prisoners for Jewish prisoners, allowing the prisoners to escape) and, finally, he smuggled himself into Auschwitz where he witnessed the full horrors of the extermination camp.
This is one of the most heroic and extraordinary stories of World War Two. Charles Coward fought the might of the Nazi army and won, his courage is testament to the indomitable human spirit facing overwhelming odds.
At the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials Coward’s testimony was sensational, allowing over 2,000 Auschwitz survivors to file lawsuits for compensations against their former oppressors.
“Coward must have been among the bravest, shrewdest and most enterprising British prisoners the Germans ever had to handle… A perky, unpretentious, genuinely heroic figure.”