THE BIG BREAK by Stephen Dando-Collins


The Greatest American WWII POW Escape Story Never Told
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A detailed look at the escape attempts by intrepid British and American POWs from Nazi camps near the end of World War II.

Military historian Dando-Collins (Rise of an Empire: How One Man United Greece to Defeat Xerxes's Persians, 2014, etc.) concentrates on the escape attempts at Schubin, Poland (Oflag 64), due south of Danzig, and, later, at Sagan, Silesia. At first, the Schubin camp housed many Royal Air Force pilots shot down in combat—along with a couple of North Americans who had joined the Canadian air force—and the first amazing escape attempt, in the spring of 1943, involved an incredibly well-organized endeavor by the men’s “X Organization” to dig a tunnel under the latrines, leading eventually to an irrigation ditch in a potato patch outside the camp’s electric wire perimeter. Indeed, 46 prisoners made a successful getaway, although most were apprehended a few days later, many turned in by Polish locals. Subsequently, the POWs were moved by truck to Stalag Luft 3 at Sagan, while newly arrived U.S. Air Force officer POWs at Oflag 64 attempted a brazen escape by going under the wire without detection. After so many escape attempts, the Germans cracked down, threatening to shoot on sight, and the escape organizations had to simmer down. By the beginning of 1945, the war was going badly for the Germans, and to evade the approaching Russians, the German military would begin the huge and ungainly task of moving by foot (many using makeshift sleds) more than 300,000 Allied POWs from the east to the west, deep into Germany. As Dando-Collins enthusiastically recounts, it was “game on” for the prisoners, who took advantage of every opportunity to hide and elude the Germans.

An exciting account from a passionate author who has done the necessary research.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-08756-0
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2016


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