ABOUT THE MOVIE
The story portrayed in the 1963 cult American film, “The Great Escape” starring Steve McQueen, has it’s continuation in Szczecin represented in the docudrama, “The Great Escape to the North”.
Exclusive closed screening of the film The Great Escape to the North
The main characters of “The Great Escape to the North” are Norwegian RAF Pilots, Flight Lieutenant Jens Muller and Sergeant Per (Peter) Bergsland, played by Przemyslaw Walich and Paul Niczewski - actors of Anna Augustynowicz’s famous Modern Theatre team in Szczecin.
The film shows the events, emotions and drama that accompanied the Norwegians from their exit of the tunnel “Harry” in Stalag-Luft III, Zagan, during their stay in Szczecin, and their escape through the port to Sweden. It is a film about the great need of freedom from adversity, and the heroism that is needed to gain this freedom, which even in today’s world is becoming an increasingly scarce “commodity”.
During our work on the film, a sensational sub-plot was discovered - besides our two main characters, a further two from the escape arrived in Szczecin – a Polish and English pilot. An original letter written by the Englishman, Group Captain Harry “Wings” Day describing his escape with Flying Officer Pawel Tobolski (disguised as a Luftwaffe pilot) was used to make a subplot in the film.
Currently the film is being edited.
The poster (also on the website) for “The Great Escape to the North” is now ready and was created by classic artist and master of Polish posters – Andrzej Pagowski (Platoon, Manhattan, A Short Film about Killing, Man of Iron)
A closed screening of the film was shown on 25th March 2014, on the 70th anniversary of The Great Escape. Special Guests – veterans of the era, representatives of the Norwegian and British Embassies, relatives of Per Bergsland, the son of Pawel Tobolski etc. honoured the screening with their visit.
A letter of recommendation from Karsten Klepsvik - Ambassador of Norway - can be read here
The film will visit several European film festivals. Szczecin’s open premiere is planned for November 2014 (7 th). It will take place in the newly opened cinema located in the historical part of Lasztownia island.
The next step will be the cinema and television premiere in Poland and abroad. We will inform you of these dates in a timely manner.
Team of "The Great Escape to the North"
On the night of the 24th of March 1944, one of the most daring prison breaks of WWII took place.
Despite major problems, 76 out of 200 prisoners of war who were supposed to have escaped, managed to leave one of the most secure camps in the Third Reich.
The entrance to the main tunnel called „Harry”, which lead to the North, was hidden under a stove in hut number 104.
The fugitives spread out over the whole territory of Germany.
They possessed forged documents, clothes, maps, and had prepared escape routes.
One of these routes lead to the North through Szczecin and the Baltic Sea to neutral Sweden. It was chosen by two Norwegians – Flight Lieutenant Jens Muller and Sergeant Per Bergsland.
They spent two dramatic, hectic days in Szczecin, trying to contact Swedish sailors who might help them.
One of the safest places in the whole city, where ordinary Germans had no right to enter, was the French brothel.
The Szczecin route was also chosen by the British and Polish pilots, Group Captain Harry Day and Flying Officer Pawel Tobolski. Their story is very exciting since, during their escape, they played the roles of a captured escapee and his German guard.
In order to arrest the escapees, Nazi Germany involved all available forces, including the army, auxiliary forces and even members of the Hitler Youth.
„The Great Escape to the North” is the story of the two Norwegian RAF pilots who reached Szczecin. It was a desperate race against time, motivated only by the thirst for freedom.
According to British historians, the breakout from Stalag Luft III was of great propagandistic importance. Although the loss was huge, 50 of the captured escapees were condemned to death, the Great Escape lifted many people’s spirits - of soldiers and civilians, of the ones fighting and the ones imprisoned.
Great Escape via Szczecin" - the shortest way to freedom
The first step in the promotion of a new tourist product named „The Great Escape via Szczecin” will be a tourist trail connecting Żagań and Szczecin.
In the next stages it is planned to create a tourist route in Szczecin, publishing brochures and a map, which will allow individual tourists to follow this story on their own and follow the tracks of the escapees Jens Müller and Peter Bergsland.
Specially trained local guides will be available for groups.
„The Great Escape to the North” film will become an integral part of the route and will be played on cinema screenings – regularly and on request.