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on 16 May 2013
This is a curious book. I have not yet finished reading, but would recommend it for reasons other than those for which it seems to have been marketed. This is not a thrilling story. After the drama of the retelling the Great Escape, it settles into the monotony of the search for the perpetrators of the slaughter of the 50 airmen who escaped and were shot, offering a unique glimpse of the dangerous and devastated landscape of post war Germany. A sense of bleakness permeates the somewhat stilted telling of the tale, and since this is not the sort of book I usually read, I have surprised myself by wanting to read on. The reason is that there is a possibly unintended but compelling subtext to this recent history. The assumptions are clear. The shooting of 50 unarmed escaped officers was an accepted war crime and the perpetrators must be punished. The slaughter was ordered by Hitler in a fit of peak but its' execution involved many people at different levels of the hierarchy. When caught, a few were unremorseful, but many argued that they had not wanted to be involved but were under orders. Had they not obeyed their orders they would certainly have been shot themselves and their families would have suffered. Others argued that their 'immorality' was no greater than that of the airmen who had bombed Dresden and other cities to rubble, killing their relatives and friends. The bomber airmen too were under orders, and though this is not discussed in the book, they had until recently been conveniently 'forgotten', and their contribution to the war was not fully recognised because of the enormity of what occurred. After being caught and questioned, the German offenders were sent back to England to the 'London Cage', a series of grand houses which hid the reality of what went on inside. This was where prisoners were in fact tortured to elicit further information. In view of the recent revelations and debates about torture and the morality of how prisoners are treated, this is both sobering and fascinating. Maybe the final part of the book makes this debate more explicit, but whether it does or not, I would recommend this book, not because it is exciting or particularly well written, but because it offers a unique glimpse of a period of very recent, but already mythologised history.
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on 6 September 2013
An interesting book to understand how these war criminals were tracked down; very lucky to find them in a lot of cases especially considering the lack of automation. Certainly worth a read although almost half the book is referencing data.
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on 23 November 2013
This book is about the hunt for the men who murdered most of the the Great Escapees during World War II. A British police officer (RAF) was charged with tracking down the men responsible in post war Germany. Quite how he was meant to achieve this would have been anybody's guess. Half of Europe was still on the move, Germany was in ruins, records were missing or destroyed, Germany was divided into 4 sectors, of which 1 sizeable portion of Germany was closed to him (the Russian sector) at the start of the book. I am not going to give away whether or not he succeeded, although some of this is discernible from the book's opening chapter; but this story is about the tenacity one small team of people possessed in order to carry out their orders and try to serve justice. Its an engaging story, sometimes a bit slow; but that kind of conveys the frustration that the investigators must have felt in trying to achieve something in what initially seemed like an impossible situation. I can forgive them that. Well worth the read.
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on 5 May 2013
Fascinating to learn how RAF tried to track down Great Escape killers with incredible success considering all the obstacles which they faced.Well researched by the Author.Will be of interest to anyone who has read other books about this escape and its tragic outcome for some of the escapers.
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on 12 January 2014
Could not put this book down - I found Mckenna the investigating officer tenacity awe inspiring. I for one am very happy to know that most of the killers of the 50 RAF officers were caught. Every age group should read this.
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on 19 January 2014
I never knew that men were sent to find the murderers of the escaping airmen. This book told me of this fact and is compulsive reading. I thoroughly recommend this book for anyone interested in true stories regarding the war and its aftermath.
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on 25 October 2014
Most people have seen The Great Escape film and the subsequent murder of 50 re-captured officers by the Gestapo.
This book tells the true story of the investigation team set up by the RAF after the war to bring the perpetrators to justice. Starting as a small team led by Sergeant Frank McKenna the book details their tireless searching back and forth across Germany and beyond to hunt them down. He tells of his disgust he felt for them while interrogating them but of the need to keep his emotions in check. The book lists all those caught, who was executed and who was imprisoned.
The thing that surprised me was the fact that the Gestapo knew at the time that what they were doing was wrong, and that someone would come looking for them, hence their elaborate cover-ups.
An excellent book.
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on 25 November 2014
This story would make a good film on its own. Very atmospheric and the thought of an ordinary copper hunting down these ruthless killers is awe inspiring. It should be kept in mind that Sgt Mckenna flew 30 missions in Lancasters prior to this invrstigation. What a brave man and outstanding police officer.
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on 23 July 2014
My husband has read widely on WW2 - always non-fiction, and said this is by far the best book he has read in a long time.

Well written and well researched and gives another dimension on this famous story that most people have only heard of via the (rather Hollywood-ised) film 'the Great Escape'.

He downloaded the kindle version after just a couple of chapters of the hardback version from our local library - said it was a book he would go back to time and again.
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on 4 January 2016
This was an excellent book detailing the RAF Police, Special Investigation Branch (SIB) investigation in to the Great Escape Murders and the great lengths that the investigators went to to bring the perpetrators to justice!
Very well researched and written. Highly Recommended! Fiat Justitia!!!
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