A.L. Sowards's Reviews > The Last Escape: The Untold Story of Allied Prisoners of War in Europe 1944-45

The Last Escape by John  Nichol
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bookshelves: history-wwii, history-1900s, 2016, nonfiction

This was a good account of what happened to American and British prisoners of war held in Germany during the last year of WWII. As the front lines got closer and closer to Germany, many of the men were marched first west—away from the advancing Red Army, and then east or south—away from the advancing British or American forces. There was never enough food, the weather was awful, and the men always lived in fear of a mass execution by the Nazis or death by friendly fire. First the Germans thought to use their lives as a bargaining chip, and then Stalin used their safety as leverage to get what he wanted from his British and American allies.

The subtitle claims it’s an untold story. I’ve read at least one memoir by a survivor of one of the marches (A Distant Prayer) and read about the mass evacuations in a few other books. But it is a story perhaps never before told in this detail. Mistreatment of German-help POWs doesn’t often take center stage. Perhaps that’s because they didn’t go on a Bataan death march and the camps where they were held didn’t have gas chambers. They had it bad, but others had it worse. Their story is still compelling, their bravery and endurance inspiring. I was saddened by their hardships and amazed by their resourcefulness. Some of them were on the road for months, during one of the coldest winters on record, with scarcely any food. This book gives you a good glimpse of the chaos surrounding the end of the war and the difficulties of those who lived through it.

I definitely learned a few new things from this book and I'm glad I read it. Recommended for readers interested in POWs, the end of WWII, or the beginning of the cold war.
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Reading Progress

April 24, 2015 – Shelved
April 24, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
April 24, 2015 – Shelved as: history-wwii
April 24, 2015 – Shelved as: history-1900s
December 1, 2015 – Started Reading
January 1, 2016 – Finished Reading
January 18, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016
July 12, 2018 – Shelved as: nonfiction

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