Skip to comments.The Great Escape Stalag Luft III, Sagan March 24/25th, 1944
Posted on 03/31/2013 4:56:02 PM PDT by robowombat
The Great Escape
Stalag Luft III, Sagan
March 24/25th, 1944
Prisoners Of War
Allied aircrew who were shot down and survived during World War II were incarcerated after interrogation in Air Force Prisoner of War camps run by the Luftwaffe, called Stalag Luft, short for Stammlager Luft or Permanent Camps for Airmen. Stalag Luft III was situated in Sagan, 100 miles south-east of Berlin, now called Zagan, in Silesia. At the time of the escape it was part of Germany, but is now in Poland. It was opened in Spring 1942 with the first prisoners arriving in April of that year, and was just one of a network of Air Force only PoW camps. The Germans treated captured Fleet Air Arm aircrew as Air Force and put them all together. There is no obvious reason for the occasional presence of a non-airman in the camps, although one possibility is that the captors would be able to spot "important" non-Air Force uniformed prisoners more readily.
Two main compounds were established, 'East' and 'North'. Despite starting out as an officers-only camp, it was not referred to as Oflag (Offizier Lager) like some other officer-only camps. The Luftwaffe seemed to have their own nomenclature, and later camp expansions added the 'Centre' compound for NCOs. As the number of American airmen prisoners gradually increased, the 'South' compound was added to house them.
A large contingent of PoWs sent to Sagan at the end of April 1943 had come from the camp at Schubin. It was at Sagan, that the famous "Wooden Horse" escape occurred on the night of October 29/30, 1943. Three PoWs (Oliver Philpot, Eric Williams and R Michael Codner) having concealed themselves in a vaulting horse, had spent months digging a tunnel through which they escaped.
(Excerpt) Read more at elsham.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk ...
Thanks for this posting. My cousin Bill Degnan Jr was a crewmember not sure what his duties were but I think a navigator on a B-25 which was shot down over Germany near the Alsatian area. He made it back to England via the French underground. Oh yea, was awarded the Flying Cross.
Excellant account of the “Great Escape”, the camps, and what happened to the survivors and perpetrators.
FYI: Many high ranking SS and Gestapo officers who were captured by the Russians were given a choice, join us or be shot. Many of them ended up in the KGB and in East. German Cabinet posts (at least 3.
The famous Nazi hunter Simon Weisenthal sent me two versions (German and English) of the 1960’s study “Ex-Nazis in the East German Government/Pankow Government) and I did an article about 1983 on them for the Jewish Week (Wash. D.C) and the newsletter “Pink Sheet on the Left”.
Study published by the “International Association of Free Jurists”, war and Holocaust survivors.
As a professional journalist, I was able to expose a Communist Party sympathizer/operative (membership never made public)and KGB assert named Charles R. Allen, who was heading off efforts by Weisenthal to expose these Nazi war criminals. Allen had been hired by ABC as their “ Nazi hunter” expert, a job status he lost after my expose’ came out.
This literally unknown history of how the Soviet Union absorbed Nazis into their Secret Police and Communist Party organizations in several countries, is worthy of a much longer and detailed book.
It is nice to get a little revenge against the Gestapo and SS by exposing those individuals on which one had documented information (including photos and Party cards) since my whole European family died in Lemberg/Lvov, Belzec and Auschwitz. It was just a reminder to any of those who were living that we hadn’t forgotten and would never give up bringing them to justice.
It was also a nice feeling to roll up a KGB operation to protect these Nazi bastards.
RIP: Just lost two of my last synagogue friends who were survivors of the Holocaust. One was a 9 year old girl who was one of two survivors of her city in Poland, out of 10,000 Jews. The other escaped into Switzerland after a harrowing trip across Austria/Germany. Wonderful people and they are missed.
On the other side of the family, my father-in-law is still alive at 93, a survivor of the famed 75th JASCO (Assault Signal Company)-Saipan, Tinian, Eniwetok and Iwo Jima.
We are trying to get him to tell his grandchildren and great-grandchildren something about his military service before he passes on. One of the “Greatest Generation”.