It was 1944, and World War 2 was raging across Europe and the Pacific. By then, both Allied and Axis forces had captured many enemy soldiers thanks to their various military operations across the globe.
The significant increase in the number of prisoners of war led the U.S. military to establish incarceration facilities in the most inhospitable places inside the U.S. mainland to secure the prisoners and avoid escapes.
Camp Papago Park, built in the middle of the Arizona desert on top of some of the country’s hardest and most compact soils, was one of such facilities. These conditions, in addition to a fearsome system of barbed wire fences and watchtowers, made an escape attempt highly unlikely.
Still, U.S. officials were not counting on the wit and determination of Nazi Commander Captain Jürgen Wattenberg, who, after arriving at Papago Park, started orchestrating what would later be known as the Greatest P.O.W. Escape in American Soil during World War 2.
After three months of arduous planning, the scheme resulted in 25 prisoners of war escaping into the Arizonian desert through a 178-foot log dirt tunnel. The feat led to what the Phoenix Gazette called: (QUOTE) “The greatest manhunt in Arizona history.”
The U.S. now had to deal with a feared “Super Nazi” loose within its own borders…
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