The Great Escape is an insider's account by [[Australian]] [[writer]] [[Paul Brickhill]] of the 1944 [[...|mass escape]] from the German [[prisoner of war]] camp [[Stalag Luft III]] for British and Commonwealth airmen. As a prisoner in the camp, he participated in the escape plan but was debarred from the actual escape 'along with three or four others on grounds of claustrophobia'.ref The introduction to the book is written by George Harsh, an American POW at Stalag Luft III. This book was made into the 1963 film [[The Great Escape (film)|The Great Escape]].
[[Image:Great escape harry exit.jpg|thumb|View looking through fence to where tunnel Harry exited, just shy of the tree line.]]== Summary ==
The book covers the planning, execution and aftermath of what became known as The Great Escape. Other escape attempts (such as the [[The Wooden Horse|Wooden Horse]]) are mentioned as well as the postwar hunt for the [[Gestapo]] agents who murdered fifty of the escapees on Hitler's direct order.
Much of the book is focused on [[Royal Air Force]] [[Squadron Leader]] [[Roger Bushell]], also known as "Big X", including his capture, early escape attempts, and [[...|planning of the escape]]. All the major participants and their exploits are described by Brickhill. Among these are Tim Walenn, the principal forger, who 'gave his factory the code name of "Dean and Dawson", after a British travel agency';ref Al Hake, the [[compass maker]];ref Des Plunkett, the ingenious chief map tracer, who made a [[mimeograph]] for reproducing maps;ref and Tommy Guest, who ran a team of tailors.ref Major , who was related by marriage to [[Winston Churchill]], was one of the escapees. The German officers and guards (called 'goons' by the prisoners) included teams of 'ferrets' who crawled about under the huts looking for signs of tunnels. They were carefully watched by teams of POW 'stooges', one of whom was Paul Brickhill, 'boss of a gang of "stooges" guarding the forgers'.ref
In the end, seventy-six men escaped. Seventy-three were recaptured and fifty of those were shot by the Gestapo. Four of the remaining twenty-three later tunnelled out of [[...|Sachsenhausen]], but were recaptured and chained to the floor of their cells.ref One of them, Major [[Johnnie Dodge|John Dodge]], was released to secure a cease-fire.ref
The book is dedicated "to the fifty".
In the aftermath of the escape, according to Brickhill, 5,000,000 Germans spent time looking for the prisoners, many of them full time for weeks.ref