Sunday, November 20, 2011

The train jumpers

This is an exciting sketch of the means of escape quite frequently practiced by Allied prisoners of War while being transferred between prisonner of war camps. The following picture from a train is both graphic and realistic. The jump involves spirit, perfect timing and steady nerves. The German guards must be caught off balance. They may be at the other end of the corridor or perhaps just looking the other way. There may be planned diversion - the guards attention has been diverted either by a German speaker or a commotion in some other part of the carriage. At the given moment the prisoner makes his jump. A comrade chucks his equipement out after him. It will contain some spare clothing, a bit of food, perhaps a map, most likely a home made compass.

What the Allied prisonners of war had to endure while escaping the German Army must have been quite frightening. An allied prisonner escaping knew that if caught by the German army, he would be handed over to the Gestapo for questionning. This soldier, airman or sailor knew that his life would be in the hands of the Gestapo interrogator. He was either subject to torture or hours on end of questionning or both without very little food or water. Very often, if the prisonner survived the intterogation, he would be sent to Colditz castle. No allied prisonner of war wanted to be sent to Colditz, the old castle on a mountain top near Leipzig, Germany, it was cold, damp and practically with no means of escape.

The only thing an Allied prisonner of war wanted to do is escape to the nearest country either to Spain or Switzerland where the Nazi regime was not in place or very neutral and to be able to contact the resistance and be helped back home to England to fight again against the Nazi regime and bring it to it's knees so the Allies could all end the war and return to a normal life once again but escaping from Colditz was probably as hard to escape as to trying to stay alive during the war on a major battlefield. Life at Colditz was miserable for any Allied prisonner of war.

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