One of the best war films of all time was the Great Escape–a movie that was made all the more fantastic by the fact that most of it was true.
Although I had watched it many times growing up, it never occurred to me to seek out the actual location of the infamous Stalag Luft III from which the characters in the film, and those in real life, sought to escape. In fact, I really had no idea where the camp was even located–except that there had to be rolling hills nearby for Steve McQueen to ride his motorcycle over (something that never really happened, I was disappointed to discover).
As it turns out, the camp (like most of the notorious Nazi camps) was located in Poland. Situated just 150 kilometers from Poznan near the town of Zagan, the camp has all but disappeared today and there’s not much left to see. According to In Your Pocket travel guides, however, enthusiasts of the film can still take a four-hour bus from Poznan to wander among the “overgrown scrub” where the camp used to be. There is also a nearby cemetery with a memorial to the dead as well as a “dusty museum featuring items recovered from the site.”
In Poznan itself, tourists can pay a visit to the Old Garrison Cemetery where the cremated remains are buried of the fifty men who escaped, were captured, and executed by the Nazis, including the mastermind of the escape effort, Roger Bushell.
Be sure to click here to learn more about this legendary escape