Stalag Luft III – An Official History of the Great Escape POW Camp

Updated: Apr 11

We were delighted to be asked to review this book!


What’s it about?


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.


This Official History of the 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. There is also 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 later years of the Second World War.


Our Review


I am sure most of you will be familiar with the stories of the ‘Great Escape’ & the ‘Wooden Horse’? If you have an interest in these or the camp in general then this book should be on your bookshelf!


This book is the official report that was written on the history of Stalag Luft III following World War Two, never released to the public it has now been published as a book with very little changes other than a few spelling mistakes. Therefore, you know you are reading the true story both good & bad.


The book is broken down into 5 sections for each of the compounds within the camp. Each section contains relevant information in relation to each of the compounds including the conditions, escape organisation & materials, intelligence, propaganda, morale, radio & mail, punishments, censorship & much more.


My Great uncle spent a week at Stalag Luft III whilst on route to another camp so there were times when I thought of him when reading through a lot of the points in this book. You would be forgiven for thinking that camp life was boring & this book does a lot to highlight that! Airmen had a duty to escape & return to their Squadrons & in light of this there were continual escape plans put forward to the Escape Committee all of which involved the covering up of plans, manufacturing of civilian clothes, forging of papers, tunnel digging etc.


There were times however when I just had to smile…as an example when roll calls were taken the mention of men moving about the lines or huts to hide the fact that others were missing did just that.


The book goes into the stories of the Great Escape & the Wooden Horse, detailing how each escape was planned, who was involved & the outcome which sadly details those who lost their lives. I liked how statements of some of the men who took part in these escapes were also provided as it gave you each of their own stories & perspectives.


From a Researchers point of view this is an amazing source book as it provides details of all the men who were involved in the escape organisation including their ranks & service numbers.


Published in 2017 the book runs to 276 pages.


This book is available via Pen & Sword, check out their website (they sell a wealth of amazing Aviation books)


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