The Great Escape is a popular 1963 war
film about 250 Allied prisoners of war escaping from a
German POW camp during World War II. The Great
Escape offers some of the finest lessons in Team Work.
Year 1944, Place: StalagLuft III, a Nazi
Prisoner of War Camp one hundred miles Southeast of
Berlin. German High Command concentrates the mostdetermined and selected prisoners to a new, highsecurity POW camp that the commandant proclaims
escape-proof. Within the camp was a core group of
prisoners determined to escape. Infact their goal was to
facilitate the escape of about 250 men in one night
An escape so daunting had never been tried before. The
core group plans the greatest escape attempted: Digging
a tunnel to 250 prisoners. Teams of men are organized
Jobs delegated includes: Survey, dig, dispose the soil,
manufacture clothing, forge documents, procure
contraband materials, keep records of soldiers
movements, distract security guards, supplying fresh air
in the tunnels with handmade bellows, and to provide
lighting in the tunnels.
The worst of the work, noise of
digging, was covered by the men singing in chorus. The
list of supplies needed for the job was unbelievable:
4000 bed slats, 1370 battens, 1699 blankets, 52 long
tables, 1219 knives, 30 shovels, 600 feet of rope, 1000
feet of electric wire, and more.
It took an army of prisoners just to
find and steal all the material required. Several prisoners
continually scrounged for anything that might aid them.
Others worked systematically and relentlessly
distracting, bribing and blackmailing the guards. Each
person had a job. There were tailors, blacksmiths,
forgers, pickpockets & camouflage artists.
The security teams kept record of
every movement of every guard. They used an elaborate
yet inconspicuous set of signals to warn other security
men. On March 24, 1944, after more than a year of work,
220 men prepared to creep through the tunnel into the
woods outside the camp. The plan was to send out one
man per minute until all had made their escape.
German speaking prisoners would
board trains and pose as foreign workers. The rest would
lie low during the day and travel at night hoping to avoid
German patrols. When the first prisoner popped up out of
the tunnel, he discovered that its exit was short of the
woods. Rather than getting out a man per minute, they
were barely able to get out a dozen per hour. In all,
eighty six men escaped before the tunnel was
It created chaos for the Nazis, who
ordered a national alert to deal with it. Eighty three of
the prisoners were recaptured, and forty one of them
were executed by order of Adolf Hitler. Only three made
it to freedom.
Though the attempt failed in
accomplishing its objective but it offered the world a
historical example of collective endeavor. Lesson of the
film is Teamwork and this is birthed when you
concentrate on"WE" instead of "ME". "It takes teamwork
to make the dream work"