Stalag Luft III

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Description:
Stalag Luft III (Stammlager Luft, or POW Camp for Airmen #3) was a Luftwaffe-run prisoner-of-war camp during World War II that housed captured air force servicemen. It was in the German Province of Lower Silesia near the town of Sagan (now Żagań in Poland), southeast of Berlin.

The site was selected because it would be difficult to escape by tunnelling. However, the camp is best known for two famous prisoner escapes that took place there by tunnelling, which were depicted in the films The Great Escape (1963) and The Wooden Horse (1950), and the books by former prisoners Paul Brickhill and Eric Williams from which these films were adapted.

The camp

Despite being an officers-only camp, it was referred to as a Stalag camp rather than Oflag (Offizier Lager) as the Luftwaffe had their own nomenclature. Later camp expansions added compounds for non-commissioned officers. Captured Fleet Air Arm (Royal Navy) crew were considered to be Air Force by the Luftwaffe and no differentiation was made. At times non-airmen were interned.

The first compound (East Compound) of the camp was completed and opened on 21 March 1942. The first prisoners, or "kriegies", as they called themselves (from "Kriegsgefangener"), to be housed at Stalag Luft III were British RAF and Fleet Air Arm officers, arriving in April 1942. The Centre compound was opened on 11 April 1942, originally for British sergeants, but by the end of 1942 replaced by Americans. The North Compound for British...
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