In February of 1945, the Third Reich is in its death throes. The ideological madness that spawned murder and genocide has run its course. But one massive shudder is left in the dying beast and ten thousand American and British airmen, held captive at Stalag Luft III by their Luftwaffe counterparts, are caught up in the cataclysmic event. Hitler has ordered their execution.
S General Ernst Dietrich, commander of the SS division responsible for the personal safety of the Fuhrer, is given the assignment. He in turn directs one of his field commanders, General von Hacker to carry out the job.
Forewarned, Camp Commandant, Hauptman Kettenbach, is appalled by the SS order. He splits his charges into two groups and sends the smaller one, a decoy group of two thousand, to the prearranged railhead at the town of Spremberg. In command is his aide, Unteroffizier Kurt Osterman. The ruse works, allowing the remaining eight thousand POW's to be evacuated, undetected, out of the area.
Colonel Jackson, the senior American officer of the decoy group, is told by Osterman of the Spremberg destination and that it is the initial evacuation point from the Russian advance; however, he is not told of the SS threat nor of his captor's duplicity. Jackson's second in command, Lieutenant Colonel Benton, rugged and obsessively anti-German, advocates a violent takeover from Osterman and a dash to the Russian lines, just 70 kilometers away. Jackson puts the suggestion on hold and is supported by the ranking British officer, Major Boyle, a tank battalion commander and the only "ground pounder" in camp.
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January 09, 2001
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