Opened in March 1942 to house captured Allied airmen, particularly officers, Stammlager Luft III at Sagan was built to make escape particularly difficult, especially tunnelling. This did not stop the prisoners who dug through more than 100 yards of loose sand, enabling seventy-six men to escape. All but three of the men were recaptured, however, and fifty were executed by the Germans. There is a chapter detailing the punishments meted out for attempting to escape, and lists the number of shooting incidents. This account provides the reader with an accurate and unprecedented insight into life in a German PoW camp in the latter years of the Second World War.
STALAG LUFT III An Official History of the Great Escape POW Camp
This Official History of the POW camp was prepared for the War Office but was never released to the general public. It explains the German administration and running of the camp, 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 escapes and their careful preparation as well as the anti-escape measures undertaken by the guards.
Stalag Luft III is best known for two escape plots by Allied POWs, one in 1943 that became the basis of a fictionalised film, The Wooden Horse. The second breakout the so-called Great Escape of March 1944, which was conceived by Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, and was authorised by the senior British officer at Stalag Luft III, Herbert Massey. It was this this breakout that featured in the heavily fictionalised version that was was depicted in the film, “The Great Escape”