10 Best Prison Breaks

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Tower of London (1597)
Catholic dissenter John Gerard fled on a rope stretched from the Tower roof to a getaway rowboat.

Libby Prison (1864)
Captive Union soldiers tunneled from this Virginia prison into a nearby yard; 109 walked away.

Lake County Jail (1934)
John Dillinger, brandishing a wooden gun blackened with shoe polish, bailed in the sheriff’s Ford.

Auschwitz (1944)
Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler hid in a woodpile for days before trekking to the Slovakian border.

Stalag Luft III (1944)
POWs excavated three tunnels below this Nazi stronghold. Only three of 76 men got away, but it’s still known as the Great Escape.

Colditz Castle (1945)
The best escape from this WWII prison never happened: Allied officers built a glider in the attic but were rescued before takeoff.

Alcatraz (1962)
After chipping away walls with spoons, Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers left on a raincoat raft and were never found.

Imrali (1974)
At a Turkish island jail, Billy Hayes stole a boat and survived to see the movie adaptation—Midnight Express—win two Oscars.

Pretoria Prison (1979)
Political activists learned to pick locks while in the clink. (Or did a sympathetic guard help?) They opened 10 doors on the way out.

Luynes and Grasse Prisons (2001, 2003, 2007)
Pascal Payet called in a hijacked helicopter. He later returned in another to lift out two buddies. Recaptured, he did it again—on Bastille Day.


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