Human Game: The True Story of the 'Great Escape' Murders and the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen

Human Game: The True Story of the 'Great Escape' Murders and the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen

by Simon Read

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In March and April of 1944, Gestapo gunmen killed fifty POWs—a brutal act in defiance of international law and the Geneva Convention.


This is the true story of the men who hunted them down.

The mass breakout of seventy-six Allied airmen from the infamous Stalag Luft III became one of the greatest tales of World War II, immortalized in the film The Great Escape. But where Hollywood’s depiction fades to black, another incredible story begins . . .

Not long after the escape, fifty of the recaptured airmen were taken to desolate killing fields throughout Germany and shot on the direct orders of Hitler. When the nature of these killings came to light, Churchill’s government swore to pursue justice at any cost. A revolving team of military police, led by squadron leader Francis P. McKenna, was dispatched to Germany seventeen months after the killings to pick up a trail long gone cold.

Amid the chaos of postwar Germany, divided between American, British, French, and Russian occupiers, McKenna and his men brought twenty-one Gestapo killers to justice in a hunt that spanned three years and took them into the darkest realms of Nazi fanaticism.

In Human Game, Simon Read tells this harrowing story as never before. Beginning inside Stalag Luft III and the Nazi High Command, through the grueling three-year manhunt, and into the final close of the case more than two decades later, Read delivers a clear-eyed and meticulously researched account of this often-overlooked saga of hard-won justice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101611586
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/02/2012
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,166,961
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

 Simon Read was an award-winning journalist before he became a nonfiction author. Read graduated from California State University, Northridge, and he resides in California with his wife and son.

Table of Contents

List of Characters xiii

Preamble: The Great Escape 1

Prologue: Sunday, March 26 13

1 "Those are my Orders" 19

2 Cold Case 32

3 Vengeance 55

4 Zlín 68

5 The London Cage 90

6 Prime Suspects 96

7 Munich 108

8 A Death in the Mountains 129

9 Saarbrücken 143

10 Danzig 161

11 Finding Scharpwinkel 171

12 Alone 191

13 The Order of the Blood 201

14 Remembrance 223

Acknowledgments 237

Appendix A The Fifty 239

Appendix B A Survivor's Tale 245

Bibliography 249

Source Notes 255

Index 317

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“A gut-wrenching account of World War II’s Great Escape and its brutal aftermath. Simon Read’s riveting tale...will touch your soul and increase your admiration for the ‘Greatest Generation.’”—Colonel Cole C. Kingseed, USA (Ret.), New York Times bestselling coauthor of Beyond Band of Brothers

"Simon Read has done an impressive job stitching together a highly readable and informative story from various sources, and making it live again.”—Jim DeFelice, bestselling author of Rangers at Dieppe, Omar Bradley: General at War, and American Sniper

Customer Reviews