The ABC will screen a documentary based on the WWII escape of 76 Allied airmen from a German prison camp in 1944.
The real life tale was the inspiration for the movie, The Great Escape.
Combining recreations and interviews with surviving prisoners from Stalag Luft III, The Great Escape: The Reckoning reveals the audacity of the escape and the brutality meted out to recaptured prisoners. Only three ‘great escapers’ made it back to England. The remaining 73 were recaptured and of them, 50 were murdered by the Gestapo.
It was a flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention’s articles of war protecting prisoners and drew an emphatic response from the British and Australian governments. As soon as the war ended, a special team of RAF Police headed by RAF Squadron Leader Frank McKenna was despatched to Germany to find the men responsible and deliver ‘exemplary justice’.
The Great Escape: The Reckoning follows McKenna’s dogged investigation of a war crime of amazing complexity. The Great Escapers were murdered in isolated killing fields hundreds of miles apart. And although more than a hundred Gestapo agents were implicated in the crime, the social and political chaos of post-war Germany provided an ideal place for them to hide. The investigation ran for more than two years and McKenna travelled thousands of miles before all the culprits were accounted for. The experience exposed him to the full horror of the Nazi regime and nearly cost him his life.
In a remarkably poignant interview, 73-year-old Ingeborg Reinhardt remembers her beloved father Emil Schulz. Sixty-five years after the event, she still mourns his death; one of 13 Gestapo found guilty of the Great Escape murders and hanged.
It airs at 8:30pm Thursday October 29th on ABC1.