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The Great Escape

Airs Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

The 76 survivors escaped through three tunnels.

Credit: Courtesy of American Public Television

Above: The 76 survivors escaped through three tunnels. "The Great Escape" is a documentary that sheds new light on the audacious escape of Allied airmen from a Nazi P.O.W. camp during World War II. On March 24, 1944, in the heart of Nazi Germany, 76 British, Canadian, Norwegian and French pilots who were held in Stalag Luft III, a prison camp of the Luftwaffe, escaped.

Discover the True Story That Inspired a Hollywood Classic

In 1932, the Nazis constructed a POW camp named Stalag Luft III in Poland that was allegedly impossible to escape. No one was able to prove that theory wrong until March 24, 1944.

On that day, 76 British, Canadian, Norwegian, and French pilots escaped using three tunnels that were dug 30 feet deep and extended 300 feet into the woods outside the camp.

Photo credit: Courtesy of American Public Television

The three tunnels were named Tom, Dick and Harry.

Many people know of the Hollywood blockbuster starring Steve McQueen that was inspired by the daring escape, but the true story has never been documented like this until now.

"The Great Escape" features restored images, recreations and even testimonials from survivors of the ordeal, including 99-year-old Jack Lyon, who was a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The Great Escape: Preview

"The Great Escape" is a documentary that sheds new light on the audacious escape of Allied airmen from a Nazi P.O.W. camp during World War II. From here, escape was impossible - or so it was believed. Unique testimony from the last survivors, recreations and today's digital images bring this riveting tale that inspired a Hollywood blockbuster to today's viewers.

Not only does the documentary cover the events leading up to the escape and the event itself, but it also details what happened next.

Following the escape, Hitler was so shaken by his military’s failings that he resorted to brazenly committing war crimes and ordered the execution of 50 of the recaptured prisoners, including the leader of the plot, RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bushell.

Photo credit: Courtesy of American Public Television

The documentary features recreations and interviews.

A riveting tale of heroism, ingenuity and strength of spirit, "The Great Escape" was acquired by American Public Television from Upside Production Distribution for syndication to public television stations nationwide.

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