Multidisciplinary investigations at Stalag Luft III allied prisoner-of-war camp: The site of the 1944 “great escape,” Zagan, Western Poland

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Abstract

Stalag Luft III, situated in Zagan, Poland (formerly eastern Germany), was the site of a World War II Allied aviator prisoner of war (POW) camp famous for repeat escape attempts—notably the mass escape of 76 POWs in March 1944, shown in the 1963 film “The Great Escape.” The site has had little attention to date because it was within restricted military training grounds until 1992. This paper reports on attempts to locate the undiscovered “Dick” escape tunnel (the “Tom” and “Harry” tunnels from the same escape attempt were discovered and destroyed by camp authorities). Geological and geophysical surveys located hut 122, which contained the “Dick” entrance shaft. Subsequent archaeological investigations included surface artifact collection and inspection of the rubble-filled, tunnel entrance shaft. Excavations to a depth of 10 m through yellow glacio-fluvial sand resulted in the discovery of the refilled “Dick” tunnel with intact bed-board shoring and ventilation system. Our investigation provides valuable insights into POW escape efforts. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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