Russian History Escape from a Siberian Prison Part 3

About an escape from a Siberian prison in the early days of World War II, history and story of the jail break.

BUSTING LOOSE--INCREDIBLE ESCAPES

The Long Walk-1939

By October, 1941, the six remaining fugitives reached the Himalayas. Fed and provisioned by friendly Tibetans, they began the climb. One morning, one of the men simply did not awaken. The five continued, battling bitter cold, ripping winds, altitude sickness, and scurvy. Finally the crest of the last mountain range was behind them, and all that remained was the descent into India and safety.

Only one easy path of descent was available, and in the distance the men could see two creatures in that path. Approaching closer, the men saw a pair of rusty-brown, 8-ft.-tall beings looking like a cross between a bear and an ape. In his book, The Long Walk, Rawicz described the encounter between the beasts and the group: "Two points struck me immediately. They were enormous and they walked on their hind legs. The picture is clear in my mind, fixed there indelibly by a solid two hours of observation. We just could not believe what we saw at first, so we stayed to watch. . . . I got the uncomfortable feeling they were challenging us to continue our descent across their ground. 'I think they are laughing at us,' said Zaro. Mister Smith stood up-'It occurs to me they might take it into their heads to come up and investigate us. It is obvious they are not afraid of us. I think we had better go while we are safe.' We pushed off around the rock and directly away from them. I looked back and the pair were standing still, arms swinging slightly, as though listening intently. What were they? For years they remained a mystery to me, but since recently I have read of scientific expeditions to discover the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas and studied descriptions of the creature given by native hillmen, I believe that on that day we may have encountered two of the animals." Forced to make a treacherous detour, tragedy struck the group a final time. One of the men slipped of a rope and fell into a seemingly bottomless crevasse-an indirect victim of the Abominable Snowman.

The group did not buckle but pressed on. They had not eaten for eight days when, on a sunny morning, they saw, in the distance, some men and dogs tending a flock of sheep. Their hopes raised, they kept going, looking like walking skeletons. Suddenly they spotted a band of soldiers marching toward them. They wanted to call out to them but were too weak and exhausted to do anything but stand and stare, their eyes filling with tears, as the military marchers approached. The group began to laugh and dance crazily before the astonished eyes of their uniformed rescuers, and one by one collapsed on the ground. After 12 months and 4,000 mi., the four survivors were at last safe and free.

After a lengthy recuperation in a Calcutta hospital, Slavomir Rawicz rejoined his Polish regiment fighting alongside the Allies in the Middle East.

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