The GREATER Escape! Longest WWII escape tunnel found along with dozens of trinkets
History enthusiasts have discovered the longest escape tunnel built by prisoners-of-war during World War II in Poland.
Measuring almost 140 metres, it was built by French officers imprisoned at Oflag II D Gross Born, a German camp for prisoners-of-war near Kłomino, in what is now north-western Poland, which operated from 1940 to 1945.
Although people knew of the tunnel’s existence, its exact length had not been measured before. According to the French officers, it was around 117 metres long.
Now a Polish team, made up of almost 80 history fans from all over the country, has determined its real length.
Based on aerial photos, they first located the camp barrack with the entrance to the tunnel. After that, they used two GPRs to determine the tunnel’s path and length.
They discovered that the tunnel was longer than assumed, almost 140 metres, which makes it even longer than the one at the Stalag Luft III camp near Żagań, in south-western Poland, which held air force personnel captured by the Germans during the war.
Measuring 111 metres, the tunnel was made famous by the 1963 American war film “The Great Escape”, which was based on a first-hand account of the mass escape of British Commonwealth prisoners-of-war from the camp.
At Oflag II D Gross Born, the French officers prepared their departure through the tunnel with extreme secrecy.
“Does not ravaged France need all her sons to heal her wounds and will we watch her ruin from afar? We do not have several to serve our people: ESCAPE. ESCAPE, this word fills our minds more and more; finally, a goal in our formless life!” writes Bertrand de Cuniac in his account of the officers’ escape, published on a website dedicated to French soldiers’ experience in the camps.
On 16 March 1942, the officers finally left the barrack via the tunnel.
Their careful preparations gave them two days to escape.
They were unlucky, though: the German guards were tipped off and murdered French soldier André Rabin as he left the tunnel.
During their search for the tunnel, the Polish team also surveyed the area using metal detectors.
They found numerous items relating to the camp’s wartime history, including soldiers’ metal identification tags and buttons from their uniforms.