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Opening The Gates of Hell

On sale

1st August 2024

Price: £22

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Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781788404846

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Herbert Kenny, an army dispatch rider, was the first Allied soldier to push open the gates at Belsen Concentration Camp, in April 1945.

He kept his story from the world until an encounter with a trainee journalist brought it to light. Now, forty years on, that reporter is ready to share Herbert’s incredible tale with the world.

With unprecedented access to Herbert’s diaries, letters and interviews, Mark Hodkinson brings to life the harrowing conditions of Belsen and its eventual liberation. From the events leading up to its gruesome discovery, to the trauma Herbert faced and his abandonment in the aftermath, this is a testament to the power of one person in the face of unimaginable darkness.

This is the tale of an ordinary man thrown into an extraordinary, life-changing situation. How can a person cope when they come face-to-face with history’s darkest moment? Herbert Kenny was that man. This is his story.

‘I have carried this story for many years, as Herbert did. I have written it because I owe it to him and others, the unknown and unsung, who, across many areas of life, have been burdened indiscriminately by great adversity and grief. They do really walk among us. And their grace, humility and strength is inspirational. While this is a tale of systematic malevolence, it is also about the resilience of the human spirit and a celebration of hope: there is more good than bad in the world, however it may sometimes seem.’