The Most Insane Ways Men Escaped from Prison


For many, the thought of prison is enough
to keep them on the straight and narrow; but for others, prison is merely a consequence
of their chosen lifestyle. And for a select few, prison is nothing more
than a challenge, a puzzle begging to be solved. Today we’ll look at some of the more creative
escapes, in this episode of the infographics show, the greatest prison escapes in history. We’re starting off with a classic, fictionalized
by Hollywood into the film “The Great Escape” starring Steve McQueen, though the real story
is fraught with far more drama than what could fit on the silver screen. In World War II the prisoner of war camp known
as Stalag Luft III was thought to be the most secure POW camp in Europe. 100 miles southeast of Berlin, it was located
deep in enemy territory and featured a host of security features meant to make it difficult
to escape from. Along with barbed wire fences, the Germans
had sunk microphones nine feet deep into the soil all along the perimeter in order to detect
the sound of digging. The prisoner’s huts were all built on stilts,
raised up above the ground so any tunnel would be immediately visible. Lastly, the sandy soil made it nearly impossible
to dig through, threatening collapse at any moment. Yet none of these things stopped a band of
British, Canadian, Australian, French and American airmen from attempting an escape
anyways. The plan was to build three tunnels codenamed
Tom, Dick, and Harry. Using only metal silverware and milk tin cans,
the prisoners painstakingly chipped away at the building support columns of three different
huts in order to avoid being seen working underneath them. They accessed their below-floor workspace
via a secret trapdoor over which they kept a heating stove permanently lit in order to
discourage any Nazi guards from getting to close. In order to solve the microphone problem,
the escapees dug their tunnels a whopping thirty feet deep, excavating an astonishing
100 tons of sand all by hand. To avoid raising suspicion, the excavated
sand was concealed in stuffed socks which they would sprinkle discreetly on garden soil
being raked by other prisoners. To shore up their tunnel walls the prisoners
stripped 4,000 wooden bed boards, and then lined each tunnel with 1700 blankets to muffle
the sounds of digging. They converted discarded milk tins into lamps,
with wicks made from pajama cords and burned in mutton fat the prisoners skimmed off the
greasy soup they were served. Stealing a few hundred feet of electrical
wire, the prisoners even managed to fashion their own work lights which they plugged directly
into the camp’s electrical supply. And if that’s not enough ingenuity, the prisoners
also created an air pump using hockey sticks and other discarded bits of trash and even
built an underground trolly system to transport the excavated sand. On March 24, 1944 the prisoners finally made
their escape. Forced to move one by one through the cramped
tunnels, barely a dozen managed to make it out per hour, and at one point a 1 hour blackout
during an air raid further slowed the escape attempt. At around 5 am however disaster struck, with
a Nazi guard on patrol nearly falling into the exit shaft of one of the three tunnels
and discovering the plot. A massive manhunt was mobilized and eventually
the Germans recovered 73 of the 76 escapees- three would make it to safety: two Norwegians
who stowed away on a freighter to sweden and a Dutchman who made his way to Gibraltar by
rail and foot. A furious Hitler ordered the execution of
50 of the escapees, violating the Geneva convention. Years after the war, a military tribunal found
18 Nazi soldiers guilty of war crimes for shooting the recaptured POWs, and 13 of them
were executed. As one of the largest manhunts in American
history, the prison escape of the Texas Seven in December of 2000 made headlines around
the world. On December 13th, 2000, the seven inmates
convinced a maintenance supervisor to let them skip lunch so they could wax the floors
of the maintenance room. Distracting the supervisor, one of the inmates
knocked him unconscious with a blow to the back of the head, then undressed him, tied
him up and locked him in an electrical room. During this time three other inmates, four
prison guards and nine supervisors wandered into the room, and incredibly all were subdued
by the inmates. That’s when the Texas Seven put their plan
into action. By impersonating various supervisors over
the telephone the inmates got out of 12 headcounts, and then making their way to the gatehouse
incredibly conned their way inside by pretending to be monitor installers. Once inside the gatehouse the prisoners subdued
the lone guard and got his firearm along with a few other weapons from a weapons cache. Then the prisoners opened the back gate and
drove their way out in a stolen pickup truck, launching a multi-state manhunt that would
be one of the largest in American history. Eventually found thanks in part to the television
program America’s Most Wanted, the prisoners even demanded a TV appearance before they
would agree to surrender. In the end, no such appearance would be granted,
and all of the seven were brought back into custody. There’s never been a more iconic prison in
history than Alcatraz, and naturally it is the setting for our greatest prison escape
story. A lifelong criminal, Frank Morris was serving
a ten year stint for bank robbery when he broke out of the Louisiana State Penitentiary
only to be recaptured a year later and sent to Alcatraz. Ranked in the top 2% of the population in
intelligence and with an IQ of 133, Morris paid no heed to Alcatraz’s reputation as an
inescapable prison and quickly went to work developing an escape plan. Partnering with brothers John and Clarence
Anglin and car thief Allen West, the four prisoners discovered an unguarded utility
corridor that ran just behind their cells, which housed a ventilation shaft to the roof. Utilizing scavenged saw blades, spoons stolen
from the commissary and even a home-built drill made from the motor of a broken vacuum
cleaner, the four gradually widened the ventilation duct opening in each of their cells. The holes were concealed using cardboard and
paint, and Morris’s accordion provided cover for the sound of their work. Once inside the utility corridor, the four
climbed to the roof of their cell block and set up a small workshop there. Using stolen and donated materials, the four
made makeshift life preservers using 50 raincoats from a design they had seen in an issue of
Popular Mechanics. They also used the raincoats to create a 6
by 14 foot (1.8 by 4.3 meter) rubber raft, and used a small accordion-like concertina
they stole from another inmate as a bellows to inflate the raft. Their paddles were made from scrap wood and
stolen screws. On the night of June 11th, 1962, the men began
their escape. Of the four though, Allen West was unable
to leave his cell, having used cement to shore up the crumbling concrete around the vent
opening in his cell which threatened to give him away. Once dried, the cement narrowed the escape
hole and fixed the steel grill in place, and by the time he had rewidened his hole and
removed the grill the others had already left without him. The other three inmates climbed the ventilation
shaft to the roof, then hauled their homemade life preservers and raft fifty feet down a
kitchen vent pipe to the ground, and then scaled two 12 foot (3.7meter) barbed wire
fences. Somewhere along the northeast shoreline of
Alcatraz, where the prison’s network of searchlights and gun towers had a blind spot, the men inflated
their raft and then rowed into the dense fog, trying to reach Angel island two miles to
the north. In the ensuing manhunt police would recover
one of the paddles and bits of raft and life preservers, but no sign of the men. With their stated plan having been to steal
clothing and a car, and no vehicle or clothing thefts reported in the area after the escape,
the police finally concluded that in all likelihood the men drowned in the strong currents and
frigid waters of San Francisco Bay. What would be your prison escape plan- trickery
and brute force like the Texas Seven, or careful and patient digging like the brave airmen
of the Great Escape? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video
called What Happens to your body while having sex! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!”

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