Siberia Escape - The Long Walk

The Long Walk

"The Long Walk" is a popular term that is attached to one of the most famous prison escape attempts of the 20th century. After being imprisoned in the far north of Russian Siberian wasteland, Polish soldier Slawomir Rawicz and six of his friends managed to escape from the gulag and go on incredible journey in which they walked over 4000 miles southward until they reached safety in India. Events from this miraculous journey were described in Rawicz's popular autobiographic book, but many modern historians dispute some portions of his tale.

According to the Rawicz's book "The Long Walk", he was imprisoned by the soviets as a political prisoner after the events of the German-Soviet invasion of Poland. In 1941 he reached distant Siberian gulag, where he and five friends managed to escape from the prison during a strong blizzard and start their journey south. The group consisted form Rawicz, two Polish soldiers, Latvian landowner, a Lithuanian architect, American engineer and during the journey they were joined by the 16 year old young Polish girl. During the journey they traveled south avoiding Russian towns, and eventually walked through Gobi Desert, Tibet, and the Himalayas, until they have finally reached British India in March of 1942, some 11 months after their escape. Four of the group members died on a journey - two in the Gobi and two in the Himalayas.

Some historical records that were found after Slawomir Rawicz's book was released in public contradict his tale. According to the Soviet records, Rawicz was released from the Gulag camp in 1942, before going directly to the Iran. But, there are also witness reports of group presence in India. British Intelligence Captain Rupert Mayne told the media that during his post in India he debriefed three men in who claimed to have escaped from Siberian Gulag camp.

Although many historians disputed the accuracy of the book "The Long Walk", it slowly became world bestseller and translated in over 25 languages. In 2010 American director Peter Weir released movie "The Way Back" (starring Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell and Ed Harris) that adapted the tale of Slawomir Rawicz on his journey to the freedom.