Absolutely fascinating. Particularly interesting (to me) were the ways the POWs scavenged and then manufactured out of tin cans and other found objects, things that they could utilize for the escape, but also for daily chores such as cooking and providing heat. Complete honor and respect to the generations that fought and survived both European wars.
This book describes in detail what life was like, including specific details of the amount of work needed to even try to escape. The 336' tunnel took 11 months to complete and in part used 4000 bed boards, 1000' feet of electric wire, 600' of rope and several hundred tons of sand were moved and hidden. An incredible accomplishment!! As well accurate forged documentation and identity cards were expertly produced for all the escapes.
But was it worth it since of the 76 that escaped, only 3 made back to England and 50 were later executed. This is not fully addressed but Barris does suggest that a huge amount of manpower was needed to re-capture the escapees (even though this is apparently not true).
Two criticisms: Barris does not address the anger, disillusionment, deprivation and depression of being a prisoner, often for years. And secondly, the format Barris uses does not allow the reader to follow any single story as the various tales leapfrog throughout the book. But overall, a book well worth reading.
This is a very good book, well researched and well written. It covers the period leading up to the great escape, and after as the POWs were being moved away from the Eastern Front, liberated, and then home and after. The only part it didn't really address, unfortunately, was what the escapees did after they got out of the camp. Generally, they are described as having been captured after so many days. I would have liked to see some description of how they hid out while on the run, how they were identified, what gave them away, and so on. Leaving that gap aside, though, this was worth reading.
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