Stalag Luft III was a German POW camp in the province of Lower Silesia, built to house captured Allied airmen. The first “Kriegsgefangene” (POWs), arrived on March 21, 1942. The facility would grow to include 10,949 “kriegies”, comprising some 2,500 Royal Air force officers, 7,500 United States Army Air officers, and about 900 from other Allied air forces.
Barracks were built on pilings to discourage tunneling, creating 24” of open space beneath the buildings. Seismic listening devices were placed around the camp’s perimeter. In the German mind, the place was the next best thing, to airtight.
Kriegies didn’t see it that way, three of whom concocted a gymnastic vaulting horse out of wood from Red Cross packages.
A Trojan horse was more like it. Every day, the horse would be lugged out to the perimeter. Above ground, prisoners’ gymnastic exercises masked the sound while underground, kriegies dug with bowls…
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