Top 10 Greatest Prison Breaks

It's human nature to yearn for freedom, and there are few places where that desire is stronger than in prison. That's why throughout history, there have been countless attempts to break out of prisons, some more successful than others. These daring attempts have inspired movies, books, and even songs, cementing their place in popular culture.

From elaborate plans that took years to execute to spur-of-the-moment decisions, the greatest prison breaks come in all shapes and sizes. Some were motivated by a deep sense of injustice, while others were purely driven by the thrill of the challenge. Regardless of their motivations, these daring escapes have captured the public imagination, and the question of which ones are the greatest is a subject of endless debate.
The Top Ten
1 Colditz Escape (1945, U.S.S.R.) The Colditz Escape occurred in 1945 in the U.S.S.R. during World War II. A group of British officers who were being held in Colditz Castle, a high-security prison for Allied officers, managed to escape by tunneling through the castle's walls. The prisoners then made their way across the countryside and were eventually rescued by the advancing Soviet army.
2 The Great Escape (1943, Germany) The Great Escape took place in 1943 in Germany during World War II. A group of Allied prisoners of war in Stalag Luft III, a high-security prison camp for Allied airmen, dug three tunnels under the camp's perimeter fence in an attempt to escape. However, only 76 of the 200 prisoners who escaped were able to evade recapture, while the rest were caught and many were executed by the Gestapo.
3 Pascal Payet (2001, France) Pascal Payet escaped from a prison in Luynes, France, in 2001. He used a helicopter to fly over the prison walls and land in the prison courtyard, where he picked up three other inmates who had been waiting for him. Payet had previously escaped from the same prison in 1999 in a similar manner, but was later recaptured.
4 Libby Prison Escape (1864, United States) The Libby Prison Escape occurred in 1864 during the American Civil War. A group of Union soldiers being held in Libby Prison, a Confederate prison in Richmond, Virginia, escaped through a tunnel they had dug under the prison's walls. The escape was successful, with all of the prisoners making it out safely.
5 Escape from Alcatraz (1937, United States) Escape from Alcatraz occurred in 1962 at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, a high-security prison on an island in San Francisco Bay. Three prisoners, Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin, used homemade tools to dig through the walls of their cells and escape through a ventilation shaft. Despite an extensive manhunt, no trace of the escapees was ever found, and their fate remains a mystery.
6 Slawomir Rawicz (1939, Russia) Slawomir Rawicz was a Polish soldier who escaped from a Soviet labor camp in 1939. Along with six other prisoners, Rawicz walked over 4,000 miles through Siberia, the Gobi Desert, and the Himalayas, eventually reaching British India. Rawicz later wrote a book about his experiences, titled "The Long Walk," which became a bestseller. However, some doubts have been raised about the authenticity of his story.
7 Alfred Wetzler (1944, Poland) Alfred Wetzler was a Slovakian Jew who escaped from the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. Wetzler and his fellow escapee, Rudolf Vrba, wrote a report detailing the atrocities being committed at Auschwitz and the existence of gas chambers. The report, known as the "Auschwitz Protocol," was smuggled out of the camp and became a crucial piece of evidence in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.
8 Texas 7 (2000, United States) The Texas 7 were a group of prisoners who escaped from a maximum-security prison in Texas in 2000. They overpowered prison guards and stole their uniforms and weapons before fleeing in a stolen prison truck. The escapees went on a crime spree, robbing a sporting goods store and killing a police officer before being recaptured. Two of the escapees were executed for their crimes, while the others received lengthy prison sentences.
9 Alfred Hinds (1960, United Kingdom) Alfred Hinds escaped from prison in 1960 while being transported to court in London, England. Hinds used a hacksaw blade hidden in his shoe to cut through the bars of his prison van and escape. He was later recaptured and sentenced to an additional 12 years in prison for his escape.
10 Maze Prison Escape (1983, United Kingdom) The Maze Prison Escape occurred in 1983 in Northern Ireland. The escape involved 38 IRA prisoners who were being held in the Maze Prison, a high-security prison for political prisoners. The prisoners managed to escape by using smuggled weapons to take control of a section of the prison, and then digging a tunnel under the prison walls using smuggled tools. The escape took months of planning and preparation and was a major embarrassment for the British government. All of the escapees were eventually recaptured, but the incident led to reforms in the way political prisoners were treated in Northern Ireland.
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