Marc Stevens
Marc Stevens asked:

Sounds very interesting. In the case of my own father, his POW camp (the infamous Stalag Luft 3 in Poland) was evacuated westward back into Germany, ahead of the advancing Soviet troops. I was under the impression that all POWs held by the Nazis were shipped westward before the Red Army reached their camps, so this story comes as a surprise.

Jeremy Dronfield Co-author Jeremy Dronfield here. (Slight spoiler ahead!) The Nazis failed to evacuate some camps. Stalag III-C in western Poland was overrun by the Red Army just as the Germans were organising the evacuation, and POWs were in fact fired on ("accidentally") by Russian forces. You can read a short piece about the liberation of Stalag III-C at:
The story of that incident and the subsequent adventures of two of the American POWs is told in detail in Beyond the Call.
Gerrad Van Indeed (most of) the Allied POWs were marched westwards, but in some cases the Red Army overtook them. About 23,000 American POWs were exchanged by the Russians across the front lines in Germany (as reported by the US 12th Army Group), some 2,800 who were liberated further east were repatriated via Odessa.
Frankly, the historical record leaves very little room for the alleged heroics of captain Trimble. It looks as if the authors took his real experiences as a ferry pilot and grafted a highly improbable story about a "covert rescue mission" on to them.
Rick I have read some other comments disputing Robert Trimble's contributions. I came away convinced that they were true. I don't think his heroics were overstated. Remember, he helped forced workers to escape as well as allied (not just American) ex-POWs. The Russians were ruthless in their treatment of former Soviet POWs and civilians who had been sent as forced laborers to other parts of the Third Reich. Soviet citizens were understandably apprehensive about being repatriated, so many resisted. I had a German teacher at San Jose State from the Ukraine who narrowly escaped repatriation. He and his compatriots were detained after the war, and managed to convince the commandant that they would, indeed, commit mass suicide if sent back. At the same time, because some allied prisoners were in Soviet hands, the Soviets had leverage over England, France, the US, etc., to ensure that Soviets were repatriated, humanitarian concerns notwithstanding. We did sell out Eastern Europe to Stalin to secure the Red Army's cooperation. It is another chapter in the long, sorry history of appeasing bullies, who only up the ante.
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