- Historical event:
- 17. April 1942
- Giraud had planned his escape for more than two years. He learned German and memorized a map of the surrounding area. Just before the escape he shaved his mustache. He descended the steep rock on which the Königstein Fortress (pictured) and headed towards freedom on foot.
On this day the French General Henri Giraud escaped from a high-security prison in the Nazi Königstein Fortress (pictured above).
This fortress near Dresden is also called the “Saxon Bastille” and it is one of the largest mountain fortresses in Europe. Giraud planned his escape for more than two years. He learned German and memorized a map of the surrounding area.
Just before the escape he shaved his mustache. He descended the steep rock on which the fortress lay and headed toward freedom on foot. He used a Tyrolean hat as camouflage.
After much trouble he managed to get to Switzerland, and then transferred to France. He told Marshal Petain, the leader of the Vichy France government which collaborated with the Germans, that Germany would lose the war and that France must resist.
Giraud later became the supreme commander of the entire French Army. On that position he became a rival to Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle acknowledged his supremacy for a while, but in the end prevailed and became the indisputable leader of France.
It is interesting that Giraud participated in the World War I as well, where he was also captured by the Germans, and also managed to escape.