All Our Yesterdays: The Great Escape

In this short video, Jack Lyon talks about his role in the 'Great Escape', the mass breakout from Stalag Luft III in Sagan (now Żagań, Poland) in March 1944.

Of 76 escapees, 73 were captured. Hitler initially wanted the escapees to be shot as an example to other prisoners, as well as Commandant von Lindeiner, the architect who designed the camp, the camp’s security officer and the guards on duty at the time. 

Hermann Göring, Field Marshal Keitel, Major-General Westhoff and Major-General von Graevenitz, who was head of the department in charge of prisoners of war, all argued against any executions as a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Hitler eventually relented and instead ordered Himmler to execute more than half of the escapees. Himmler passed the selection on to General Artur Nebe. Fifty were executed singly or in pairs. Roger Bushell – Big “X” – was shot by Gestapo official Emil Schulz just outside Saarbrücken, Germany.

Seventeen were returned to Stalag Luft III, four were sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where they managed to tunnel out and escape three months later but were recaptured after several weeks and returned to Sachsenhausen. Two were sent to Oflag IV-C Colditz.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today. 

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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