THE twisted limbs of trees in the abandoned death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau and storm clouds over the entrance gate are among the arresting images captured on film by Peter Holzapfel.

The Vicar of Kempsey and Severn Stoke is a skilled amateur photographer with an eye for the details that speak volumes.

Pictures he took on a visit to Auschwitz include an empty hut with its door gaping "like the mouth of Hell" and "weeping" trees, their bark stained with a delicate tracery of "tears".

But nothing had prepared him for the anguished image he found in an overgrown cemetery at the former Warsaw ghetto.

"It was an eery, Gothic place and I was beating my way through the undergrowth, looking for something to photograph," he said.

"Suddenly I saw an agonised, screaming face on a gravestone about 60 feet away. It summarised the horror of the place.

"But the most amazing thing was that when I got nearer I could see it had not been carved by human hand. It was completely made by the weathering of the stone."

"In my opinion this is one of the most profound pictures I have ever seen. I will never take a more amazing photograph.

"I have still not seen this image reproduced anywhere else, but I can hardly believe that I am the only person who has ever noticed it," he said.

Although he now has a digital camera, Mr Holzapfel still uses the camera he inherited from his father, who came to England as a German prisoner-of-war.

He does not believe in faking images, merging several different shots or adding details that were not there.

"Even using new technology, the most I would do is the sort of adjustment to light or shadow I might have done in the dark room," he said.

The original owner of his camera was a member of the Hitler Youth.

He had little choice but to fight for Hitler, until he was shot and captured in Holland, taken prisoner by the Americans and subsequently handed over to the British.

Mr Holzapfel's mother was English and was working in a slipper factory in Bacup when she met his father, a German prisoner detailed to work there.

"He couldn't speak English and she couldn't speak German, but they got together and she became the first English woman to marry a German prisoner-of-war.

"He was only 21," said Mr Holzapfel.