The Great Escape
 

 

 

 

 

The history behind the film is also interesting. Hitler ultimately calmed down after being reasoned with by Goering, Feldmarschall Keitel, Maj-Gen Graevenitz and Maj-Gen Westhoff, and dictated that more than half the prisoners be shot and cremated. So, as depicted in the film, several of those recaptured were not executed and were indeed returned to confinement. In fact, even those executed were not "shot on the spot" for the most part, but were actually executed later after being turned over to the Gestapo; most being shot while being allowed to relieve themselves, under the guise of "trying to escape".

 

There are many accounts as to how much more humane the environment was within the camp (which even had a popular and very successful theatre, featuring prisoners who would later be name performers) than many other POW camps...to quote one source

 

‘It must be made clear that the German Luftwaffe, who were responsible for Air Force prisoners of war, maintained a degree of professional respect for fellow flyers, and the general attitude of the camp security officers and guards should not be confused with the SS or Gestapo. The Luftwaffe treated the POWs well, despite an erratic and inconsistent supply of food’

 


Finally, virtually all the major engineering aspects in regards to the tunnels and the initial escape in the film are as they were actually achieved in the real escape. The technical advisor Wally Floody himself an inmate ensured that Sturges (not that it would have been his intention) did not take too many liberties. The film certainly tinkers with the tone and character portrayal, but not in the key elements that are disparaged out of sneering ignorance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                          

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The great escape