Opened in the spring of 1942 to house captured Allied airmen, Stalag Luft III at Sagan was planned and built to make escape particularly difficult, especially tunnelling. This, though, did not deter the prisoners. Numerous escape attempts followed, involving prisoners trying to go over, through or under the wire fences. In some cases they succeeded. It is for two of the successful escapes that Stalag Luft III is best known – both of which went on to be depicted in films. The so-called Wooden Horse escape in October 1943 resulted in the three prisoners involved all making a ‘home run’. Three further ‘home runs’ resulted from the mass escape which occurred the night of 24/25 March 1944 – the so-called ‘Great Escape’. Drawn from the information and testimonies of those who were held in Stalag Luft III, this official history of the camp was prepared for the War Office at the end of the Second World War, but was never released to the general public. It examines subjects such as the German administration and running of the camp, which eventually consisted of a number of separate compounds, the food and conditions the prisoners endured, and the means by which morale was maintained under such trying circumstances. Inevitably considerable space is devoted to the various escape plans and their careful preparation, as well as the anti-escape measures undertaken by the guards. There are also sections detailing the punishments meted out for attempting to escape, as well as the various shooting incidents that occurred. Whilst the camp also housed American personnel, this detailed account provides the reader with an accurate and unprecedented insight into life for British and Commonwealth prisoners in a German PoW camp during the Second World War.
Stalag Luft III
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