ABOUT THE MOVIE
The story portrayed in the 1963 cult American film, “The Great Escape” starring Steve McQueen, knows the whole world. We reveal to you an unknown part of this history, events that happened in the city of Szczecin.
The official trailer
It was so difficult, almost impossible, however, happened.
Stalag Luft III in Sagan was the best guarded camp of the Third Reich, for 'difficult cases' - airmen who despite sanctions stubbornly attempted to escape. In the beginning, they were mostly British, and later also citizens from America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and European countries such as Poland.
A plan for a mass escape was made. The simultaneous digging of the tunnels – named Tom, Dick and Harry – was aimed to give an advantage to the escapees. The aim of this operation was to attempt to get over 200 prisoners out. Eventually, 76 POW's used Harry to escape from the camp. Most of the escapees were pretending to be workers and traveling by trains.
Two Norwegian pilots: Sergeant Per Bergsland and Lieutenant Jens Müller have chosen Szczecin. In a French brothel they met a Swedish sailor who was supposed to help them find a ship sailing to Sweden. It happened otherwise.
Harry Day and Pole Paul Tobolski, wearing Luftwaffe uniform, also have reached the city. Their only chance was Pole's sister, who married a German.
In those days the word 'freedom' was of great importance. It meant something most forbidden and most desired.
"The Great Escape to the North" shows the moment of the escape and attempts at trying to escape the pursuit. The heroic act of RAF's airmen was a great effort fulfiling the eternal need for freedom. City of Szczecin, which they chose, was to become the gateway to freedom.
Based on the true story, 'The Great Escape to the North' is a unique docu-drama, keeping the viewer in suspense from the first minute to the last.
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 took place 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 "The Great Escape to the North" was shown (in the competition) in Gdynia, on one of the most important festivals of historical films in Poland - "Niepokorni, Niezlomni, Wyklęci" - Gdynia.
More info here
The cinema premiere on November 14 in Szczecin.
The next step will be 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.