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“The Great Escape”

Stalag Luft III Prisoner Camp Museum
Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Zagan
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed October 20, 2013

This is about a place, when a mass escape, later screened under the same title as this review, has happened. The place is not easy to find - you got to follow the road south from Żagań, and after about 1 km you'll see the signs for the museum. The main feature is after war building, since 2012 joined by the reconstruction (made by English and US pilots) of one of prisons wooden huts. There's also very stirring monument there, and the latest thing - a copy of the "Harry" tunnel, where you can check the conditions they had during the escape in march 1944. The museum groups all the basic knowledge you need about the war times, but then you got to use your sense of direction to find the genuine prison remnants being repossessed by the nature fast. There's an excellent map of the former prison on sale in the museum. The track of the "Harry" tunnel can be found just north from the museum, in thick forest. monuments are placed at both ends of the tunnel and between them there's a line of concrete blocks with names of the escaped prisoners. There's also many traces of all sorts of prison buildings hidden in that forest. Slightly closer to the Żagań there's set of two war time cemeteries (English and Russian).

7  Thank endrju_74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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62 - 66 of 109 reviews

Reviewed October 20, 2013

About 35 minutes brisk walk from Zagan Town and about 15 minutes from the station. Ring the bell to gain entry to the museum as it looks closed. (small entry fee). The exibition is small but interesting and the film presentation typical of small museums but the obvious star attraction is the curator who gave me about 45 minutes of his time. His English is good and he has a great deal of knowledge and is bursting with enthusiasm.
About one KM from the museum is the site of Stalag Luft III - "The Great Escape". It is worth the walk. The site of tunnel "Harry" can be seen, as can the site of "The Cooler" isolation building. There are lots of information boards.

8  Thank britinsussex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 5, 2013

I had an above-average interest in Stalag Luft III because my father was one of the Prisoners of War held in this camp from 1943 through 1945. I didn't think I would ever be able to actually see the place since it was behind the Iron Curtain for so many years and far from my usual travels even after that era ended. But the opportunity came up to spend a little additional time in Europe so I excitedly planned to visit the museum and camp, thinking there probably would be much to see but it would still be worth the trip to just see the area that had such an impact on my father's life.

Wow, when I got there I discovered far more than I ever imagined - the museum has a lot of artifacts from the camp itself, with an emphasis on The Great Escape, of course. My father had participated in building the tunnels, getting rid of dirt, etc, but had been moved to the South Compound before the actual escape took place so he was not one of those who tried to get out [thank goodness]. Still, I grew up hearing stories about Stalag Luft III and various details of the tunnels, the escape, etc, and I had also read a number of books about the topic - so I assumed I knew most of what there was to know. Until I reached the museum, that is - they have so much information there, my brain couldn't really absorb it all in one day.

When one of the museum guides discovered I was a family member of one of the POWs, he immediately got out his records and looked up my father, providing me with the exact building and room number he occupied, as well as some other information I didn't have. He asked me some questions and provided a TON of other information, then took us over to the actual camp site and showed us all the areas of the camp, even though it was raining. My dad had spent some time in the North Camp when he first arrived so Mirek showed us the replica of Tunnel Harry, which was the one my dad worked on the most, and it's relationship to the various buildings, including the guard tower and German headquarters buildings. He gave me extensive details about many other buildings and took me to the area where my father was when he got the evacuation order on January 27, 1945, which resulted in a grueling march, an even worse ride in railroad box cars, followed by an even longer and more grueling march as my dad and others were transferred from Stalag Luft III to Stalag Luft VII-A. Mirek gave me many details about the evacuation, the transfer and other things of life for the POWs that I didn't previously have, including showing me copies of the camp newspaper and other items.

After our extensive exploration of the North Compound, Mirek took us over to the South Compound and the exact building where my father lived during his time there. He told me they don't know for sure how the rooms were laid out but showed me where my dad's room was probably located based on their best information. Between all the information he told us and the information provided on the many boards around the camp, it was truly overwhelming to take it all in. In fact, we had only allowed 4 hours for our visit, thinking we couldn't possibly need that much time, but even though we exceeded our limit by more than an hour, we still had a lot more to see!! So obviously the only thing we could do was to schedule a second visit a week later!!

Mirek was very nice and scheduled an appointment with us for our return visit to be sure he or someone else would be personally available when we arrived. On our second trip, we toured the replica of the barracks building, which has loads of additional information about the escape and life in camp for different groups of people. I had previously been under the impression that only Americans and British, along with a handful of Canadians and one or two others, were held in the camp. I was astonished to learn just how many other countries were represented among the prisoners and what a wide variety of cultures, religions and backgrounds were present in that camp. It was a truly amazing experience and I am totally impressed with everything they have done.

But wait - there's more!! I actually decided to go back a THIRD time since it's unlikely I'll get to return to this area again, at least not any time in the near future, and I purchased some postcards, coffee cups and other mementos for my siblings and other family members. Each time we went to the museum, there were people visiting it and each time, we observed museum employees explaining things, showing a group something or being helpful in some way. I've been to a LOT of museums but never one that had such a dedicated group of employees. This place is truly something very, very special - if you are anywhere in the area, it's really worth the effort to visit!!

Note - the Museum is currently closed on Mondays and there is free admission on Tuesdays! Otherwise, there is a small entrance fee which helps cover some of the costs of maintaining the exhibits and displays.

13  Thank Lynda A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2013

Visited whilst driving en route from Krakow to Berlin. It's about 6 or 7 miles off the (non motorway part of the A18). I first saw the entrance to the museum. We didn't have too much time. It was baking (100 degrees on 30 July this year). Now I made a mistake. I saw the museum...there are mock up fences, a goon tower, mock up tunnel and sentry box as well as a barack hut. This was actually Stalag 8 (where Poles were kept). There was a map of sorts on the wall of the museum near the entrance. I took a photo of it and tried to follow it as best as I could. The place was deserted. It was mid afternoon. We walked through a deciduous woodland before coming across a railway line with platform. Beyond that is a large flat, open area with concrete roads. Beyond that is coniferous forest. We headed in that direction. Every now and then there was an information board written in Polish, English and I think French. Actually within the forest were several areas that contained brick work, obviously the foundations of huts etc. We knew we were now in Stalag Luft 3, the information boards told us, though we couldn't locate any of the tunnels or memorials, despite checking the map. And so we went away empty handed. I have since learnt that we should have proceeded a km further along the road towards Zagan town and we would have seen the entrance to Stalag Luft 3. Despite that I don't think we were that far away from the tunnels. Oh well, next time!

5  Thank Brad9426
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 15, 2013

Visited the museum/camp over a month ago now. There are several replica huts built within the main complex and upstairs within the main building are some artefacts from the actual escape in addition to replica models, newspaper articles and other interesting pieces.
To the front of the main area is a replica guard hut and tunnel so you can experience what it would be like to actually escape.

Not much remains of the original camp, however 1- 2 km along the road you can find the site of tunnel "Harry", along with the remains of the infamous cooler, medical huts etc. Care should be taken if walking along the dirt track to this point as it appears to be a road for heavy industrial equipment/transportation.

There is a fee for entry, but very small.
Definitely worth a visit if in the area.

2  Thank Truth_Master_3000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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