Just finished Moonless Night by B.A. "Jimmy" James
by Ziks511 - 1/22/13 8:30 AM
certainly the most extraordinary WW2 memoir I have ever read. James was an RAF pilot shot down in 1940 and captured, who escaped 12 times, penultimately in The Great Escape, was recaptured and sent to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp from which he and 4 others tunneled their way out. He was recaptured and shuffled though Sachsenhausen, Flossenburg, Dachau, and Reichenau Concentration Camps in the custody of the SS who had orders to shoot them before the war ended, in company with an extraordinary collection of people including a couple of Generals implicated in the von Stauffenberg bomb plot and lower ranking Germans, Pastor Martin Neimoller the famous Nazi-resisting Lutheran minister, the Bishop of Clermont-Ferrand, Kurt von Schuschnigg the Austrian Prime Minister at the time of the Anschluss, and various families with children including the Thyssens, and Hjalmar Schacht former Nazi Finance Minister also implicated in the July 1944 bomb plot.
They were strafed several times by Allied aircraft, on this peculiar and nightmarish journey, and enede up in a beautiful Austrian valley where they were put up in a luxurious hotel under the predatory eye of the SS, who intended to shoot them the next day. A small detachment of Wehrmacht sent from Italy saved them from the SS, and possibly from the Italian partisans who were in the woods surrounding the village and hotels. The fact that General Garibaldi was one of them might have saved them from the partisans, however.
There is American content since American airmen were intitially prisoners with the British at Stalag Luft III until they their own compound there could be constructed. John Dodge of the car family and a cousin of Churchill's through their mothers was there, as were two soldiers named Churchill only one of whom was related to the Prime Minister. The Germans kept both, just in case.
This is certainly the best story of prisoners of war I've ever read, and heaven knows I read as many as I could lay my hands on during my High School years.
Easily available through Amazon, since it has recently been reissued.