On March 24, 1944, there were 76 men who escaped from Stalag Luft III. That “great escape” was celebrated at a wreath-laying ceremony in Zagan, Poland. According to a March 24 report by Radio New Zealand, family members of those who participated in "The Great Escape” were there to remember their loved ones at the ceremony.
Prisoners at the camp dug three tunnels from which 76 men went through to escape. They started digging those tunnels in April of 1944.Those tunnels were known as “Tom, Dick and Harry.” Of the 76 men who went through the “Harry” tunnel, only three made it back to their home countries. Fifty of them were captured and executed on the direct orders of Adolph Hitler. Others were sent to other prisoner of war camps.
Two Norwegian pilots, Per Bergsland and Jens Muller, made it safely back to Norway. Bram van der Stok, a Dutch pilot, also made it home. All three men passed away in the 1990s.
Stalag Luft III housed as many as 10,000 prisoners. It is located about 100 miles southeast of Berlin. It was on the border of Poland.
Steve McQueen starred in the movie “The Great Escape.” That movie was based on the escape from Stalag Luft III. Oklahoma native, James Garner, also starred in the “The Great Escape.” The movie was released in 1963.
In addition to family members of those who escaped being present at the wreath-laying ceremony at Stalag Luft III, other survivors of the prison camp and their families were also in attendance.