Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Great Escape

I love movies. One of my favorites is The Great Escape, a 1963 film about Allied prisoners of war planning and executing an escape from a German POW camp during World War II. Whereas other POW films like The Bridge on the River Kwai and La Grande Illusion include scenes in which the POWs crossdress to entertain their fellow POWs, The Great Escape does not.

Turns out that a photo I posted here years ago (see above) actually shows POWs crossdressing at the very camp depicted in The Great Escape.

An e-mail from Ben van Drogenbroek, author of The Camera Became My Passport Home: Stalag Luft 3, the Great Escape, the Forced March and the Liberation at Moosburg : The Memoirs of Charles Boyd Woehrle, tells all:

Hello Stana,
Sorry to catch you from out of the blue. I was googling "prisoner of war" when I came across your website.
The photo with the caption "American prisoners of war femulate in a German prison camp during World War II." was actually taken at the South Compound of Stalag Luft 3.
Stalag Luft 3 was a German prisoner of war camp solely for Allied Air Force officers. Stalag Luft 3 became well-known for two famous escapes, "The Wooden Horse Escape" and "The Great Escape."
The name of the play slipped my mind, but I can look it up.
I must say; your website is well worth visiting; well done!
All the best from the other side of the ocean.
Ben van Drogenbroek

Here are two additional photos from the same POW camp.

Source: MyHabit

La Grande Illusion
World War I POWs femulating in the 1937 French film La Grande Illusion.


  1. The Great Escape is a wonderful film. I'd forgotten about the film about the Wooden Horse escape, just been reading up on it at Wikipedia, the trivia item about the actor Peter Butterworth being one of the prisoners at the camp and involved with the vaulting activity while the escapees were digging was interesting as I never realised that he was a prisoner of war.

  2. That was a very interesting outreach connection that your wonderful blog made in connecting to Mr. Van Drogenboeck. It is always so affirming to find these unique historical connections.

  3. I have checked these photos particularly carefully, as my God Father was a prisoner in that camp. like many of the others he was quite happy to do a bit of vaulting and generally help out, but was not ready to risk an escape himself. I do know that friendships forged there lasted some of these men all of their lives, the shared adversity giving them something in common that nobody who hadn't been there would fully understand.