The fate and whereabouts of journalist whistle-blower Julian Assange remain unknown after his outgoing emails were disrupted. The Ecuadorian government concedes their having severed his internet access. In view of the enormous pressure Washington DC can put on this small country their doing so is understandable. However, there doesn’t seem to be any reason in the whistle-blower’s simultaneous disappearance. In such circumstances speculation takes over. Adding my own hypothesis it would make sense if a deal was struck that would shut Assange up to coincide with his release from his sanctuary in Ecuador’s London Embassy.
When it comes to clandestine escapes of dissident fugitives one is reminded of Luftwaffe flying ace, Baron Franz von Werra. On September 5, 1940 the legendary fighter pilot was captured after being shot down by RAF Pilot Officer Basil Gerald Stapleton of 603 Squadron. What followed was a number of daring escapes from several of Britain’s 1,050 prisoner of war camps.
The exasperated English shipped the legendary baron, whose mascot was a lion cub, to Canada. There, he would spend the rest of the war in one of Canada’s 40 British POW camps. Fail.
During the train’s journey across the Newfoundland hinterland the Luftwaffe ace organised an escape. He and others escaped at Smith’s Falls in Ontario in January when Canada’s winters are at their most vicious. The small escape party was still 30 miles distant from the St. Lawrence River, which at that point marks the U.S ~ Canadian border. Franz von Werra was successful whilst his four companions were quickly captured.
Having successfully crossed the frozen St. Lawrence River to the safety of the then neutral United States the fighter pilot was taken into custody. There he was charged with entering the United States illegally. Bailed by the German Consulate the pilot was provided with sanctuary in the Reich’s New York consulate. A frustrated Washington DC dearly wanted to comply with England’s demand that the pilot be returned to Canada or Britain.
Stalemate ensued in which the Baron fully exploited his celebrity status. Ordinary Americans, most of whom were sympathetic towards the Reich, adored the daring flying officer. The Luftwaffe made the most of his film star handsomeness and charisma. With a list of breath-taking escapes to his credit and reputation for humiliating England’s Winston Churchill Americans took Baron Franz von Werra to their generous hearts.
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Whilst the diplomatic stand-off continued the legendary flying ace, under cover of darkness, fled the consulate and United States. There was speculation about the complicity of consular officials, the pilot’s conspiratorial departure and the route he was to take back to Germany. Enough to say that Baron Franz von Werra, born into poverty in a Swiss village, subsequently arrived back in the Fatherland wearing a broad smile on his face.
On April 18 1941 Franz von Werra arrived in Berlin after travelling home via Mexico, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona and Rome.
Naturally the German nation made a great fuss of their returning hero. The ace flier was personally awarded the Iron Cross by Adolf Hitler. Soon afterwards Baron Franz von Werra married his long-time girlfriend. After the short honeymoon the aviator re-joined his comrades and was placed on active duty on the Eastern Front. There he added further humiliation to Britain and the U.S by successfully downing many U.S and British made aircraft that had been gifted to Bolshevik Occupied Russia.
Although the story of Franz von Werra’s escape ends on an inspiring note his odyssey concludes poignantly. Germany, under constant attack from 1,000 bomber air raids, the pilot was transferred to fighter patrols guarding Germany’s North Sea defences. During one such flight von Werra’s aircraft engine failed and the engaging and heroic airman was lost at sea. Never since has there been a trace of the flier or his aircraft; it seems that Luftwaffe Fighter Baron Franz von Werra had once again been the one who got away.
HEROES OF THE REICH The improved 2nd Edition of Mike Walsh’s multi-biography of the Reich’s most celebrated heroes and heroines is now available on Amazon Books and Kindle.
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