BOOKS: by Michael Daniel (reviewer)News Weekly
The Great Escape, by Anton Gill
, March 8, 2003
The Great Escape
by Anton Gill
Available from News Weekly Books for $60.00 plus p&hOne of the most well known incidents in World War II, immortalised in the classic film The Great Escape, was the mass breakout from prison camp Stalag-Luft III near Sagan in eastern Germany. On the night of 24/25 March 1944, 76 POWs escaped through a tunnel. Only three succeeded in their bid for freedom; however, with 50 of the 73 recaptured murdered on Hitler's orders.
This retelling of the story is based upon extensive research by the author, which included interviews with survivors and their relatives.The Great Escape
retells the events surrounding the establishment of Stalag-Luft III as a POW camp; the plan to construct three tunnels so that if the Germans discovered one of them, work could continue on the others; and practical problems faced by the escapees including the removal of dirt and obtaining wood to shore up the tunnels.
An elaborate escape organisation not only constructed the tunnels but also created items needed by the escapees, including civilian clothing, forged papers, compasses and maps. The Great Escape
also details the murder of 50 of the escapees and the efforts made to prosecute successfully those who took part in the killings.
This well-written, interesting account is interspersed with reminiscences from survivors, their friends and families.