The true story of one of the most heroic feats of World War II...the daring prison camp breakout that inspired the classic film The Great Escape
Stalag Luft III was one of the Germans' "escape-proof" prison camps, specially built by Hermann Göring to hold Allied troops. But on March 24, 1944, in a courageous attempt by two hundred prisoners to break out through a series of tunnels, seventy-six Allied officers managed to evade capture -- and create havoc behind enemy lines in the months before the Normandy Invasion.
This is the incredible story of these brave men who broke free from the supposedly impenetrable barbed wire and watchtowers of Stalag Luft III -- and who played an important role in Allied intelligence operations within occupied Europe. The prisoners developed an intricate espionage network, relaying details of military deployment, bombings, and raids. Some of them were involved in other daring escape attempts, including the famous Wooden Horse episode, also turned into a classic film, and the little-known Sachsenhausen breakout, engineered by five Great Escapers sent to die in the notorious concentration camp on Hitler's personal orders. Tragically, fifty of those involved in the Great Escape were murdered by the Gestapo. Others were recaptured; only a few made it all the way to freedom. This dramatic account of personal heroism is a testament to their ingenuity and achievement -- a stirring tribute to the men who never gave up fighting.
Includes eight pages of photographs and illustrations, excerpts from Göring's testimony during postwar investigations, and a list of the men who escaped.
The 1944 breakout of 76 Royal Air Force officers from a German POW camp, immortalized in the classic war movie The Great Escape, gets a vigorous retelling in this absorbing historical study. Journalist and television producer Carroll follows the exploits of the irrepressible airmen throughout the war, recounting their colorful backstories and their many escape attempts from several German camps. The climactic breakout from the supposedly escape-proof Stalag Luft III proves a logistical epic. The POWs had to engineer and build three huge tunnels, hide thousands of tons of excavated dirt, tailor civilian outfits and German army uniforms, forge identification documents and even manufacture compasses for the escapees, all under the noses of their guards. Carroll is even-handed in noting the usually gentlemanly relations that prevailed between the opponents; one German commandant sent a case of champagne to some escaped POWs after their recapture in a sporting nod to their ingenuity. But by 1944, German attitudes had hardened, and 50 of the Great Escapees were executed on Hitler's orders, an atrocity that Carroll reconstructs, along with a judicious assignment of blame to the various German officials involved. Given that only three POWs eluded recapture, it seems that this most romantic of World War II adventures was also one of the most tragic.
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Gripping and detailed account of "The Great Escape."