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Was the mass escape attempt, from Stalag Luft III, The Great Escape, worth the price?

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Dracula, May 28, 2020.

  1. Dracula

    Dracula Member

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    Browsing YOUTUBE, you can stumble onto almost anything. I ran across the 1963 movie, The Great Escape. It's broken into clips but the whole movie is there. At the end, James Garner, playing the role of Scrounger, learns that 50 escapees had been executed. He asks a simple question, was the cost worth it?
    Digging into the historical timeline of the actual event, I have to say no. The escape happened in March of 1944 and, by April of 1945, American forces had liberated the POW's, who, by this time, had been moved to another camp.
    Was the attempt worth it?
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    The issue for the PoW's is that they have no idea when the war ends for them. At this point Overlord has yet to happen, so the nearest liberation is in Britain, Italy or Poland.
     
  3. Riter

    Riter Member

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    They did their duty. May they RIP.
     
  4. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..we had a thread on this somewhere with a lot of information ..I said NO
     
  5. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The view at the time was that prisoners of war had a duty to try to escape. By doing so they tied down enemy resources. By comparison with their serving comrades, they were safe from the perils of service and, as long as the enemy followed the Geneva Convention they would survive the war.
    There were escapes by other ranks, including a corporal who escaped to the Soviet union and was held by the NKVD for many months after the British and Soviets were on the same side. Escape attempts and Hun baiting were very much officer sports. It came naturally to ex public and grammar school boys used to occupying their time with acts of insubordination that tested the patience of those in authority.

    50 RAF Officers shot dead? That is about the number of dead from eight Lancaster bombers shot down over Germany. 50 out of 57,205 Bomber command dead . 8,348 Western Allied prisoners died in German camps during 1939–45 (3.5% of the 232,000 total).
     
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  6. Dracula

    Dracula Member

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    One story and then this thread can go wherever old threads go. Like everyone else, I had known many WW2 veterans but there was only a few of them, that felt close to me and told stories, of what they had lived through. My father in law, who spent 14 months on carrier duty in the pacific, An in law, who was in the Army, fought in France, was captured by the Germans, and spent time in a POW camp, A piano teacher and shop owner, who was flying on B-17's over Germany, and the one that really came out of left field, my local church pastor, who was a B-17 waist gunner.
    If you looked at and knew my pastor, you would say no way but this was his story, which happened toward the last few months of the war. After his B-17 was shot down, he was captured and moved to a POW camp. Somehow, he and a buddy escaped and made their way to the nearby Swiss border. Upon reaching the border, the Swiss guards told them that they would be interned but they would probably get home faster, if they went back, to German controlled territory, and surrendered themselves. The suggestion made sense to them and that's what they did. They escaped German controlled territory, made it to Switzerland, left Switzerland and returned to German controlled territory and surrendered. The Swiss border guards were right. A short time later the war was over and they were on their way home.
     
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  7. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ....but it didn't tie down troops and affect battles......the bombers were at least blowing the crap out of Germany
     
  8. Class of '42

    Class of '42 Active Member

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    Least the Germans treated Allied POW's with some care, unlike the Japanese who considered them worse then dogs. My late step father was shot down in a B-26 over Germany and spent over a year in camps..he said he weighed 95 pounds with a bad back when finally liberated. He said he never could watch the Great Escape..too many bad memories and lost comrades.
     
  9. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    IMO, I think you should be shot for escaping.....
    you've been captured
    they give you food/housing/medical care/etc
     
  10. Riter

    Riter Member

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    Amazing story Dracula. Some American internees had it rough in Swiss hands.
     
  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    It did when 300 of them were on the loose!
     
  12. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    it did not affect any battles, did it? ..it wasn't 300--it was around 70 I thought
     
  13. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    According to the movie 76 got out, 3 got away, and 50 were shot. The rest were returned to the stalag and Steve McQueen went straight to the cooler.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  14. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    with the ''victory'' music
     
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  15. Riter

    Riter Member

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    Works great unless you're a prisoner of the Japanese, Soviets and if a prisoner of the Germans, a Jew or a Russian.
     
  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    German officers had the same policy. There was a mass breakout of about 70 PW in 1945
    German 'great escape' in Wales marks 75 years
    Prison break outs embarrass the authorities, waste lots of time hunting escapees down, sows mistrust among the civilian populace and encourage the authorities to spend effort to strengthen the security measures at prisons. It was also a demonstration of morale and belief in final victory, part of the morale battle.

    The British could be as ruthless as the Gestapo when it suited them. German spies that would not immediately confess to their role as a spy and agree to work for the British were executed without any notification to next of kin, regardless of whether they were soldiers or civilians. It was carried out done legally under special legislation with secret courts.
     
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  17. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    German Naval officers stage a breakout from Papago Park, Arizona.

    Camp Papago Park - Wikipedia

    Seems that everyone has their own "Great Escape".
     
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