75 years ago today, in a true event later dramatized in the film The Great Escape, 76 Allied prisoners of World War II began breaking out of the Nazi camp Stalag Luft III in Poland through secretly dug three tunnels. The camp was extremely secure and thought to be escape-proof.

It was a race between the Nazis, who knew there was a tunnel–and buried microphones to listen for digging–and the airmen who needed to keep the 300-ft tunnels hidden long enough to complete construction. WATCH a documentary about how they pulled off the ingenious engineering feats that facilitated the mass escape… (1944)

MORE Good News on This Date:

  • Canada extended to black citizens the right to vote –128 years before 1965 when the U.S. did (1837)
  • Cleveland, Ohio set a record high temperature for March: 83ºF (1910)
  • Animator Joseph Barbera, the award-winning co-creator of Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, and The Jetsons–and founder of one of the most successful animation studios of the 20th century–was born (1911)
  • The National Gallery of Art was established through a gift from financier, public servant, and art collector Andrew W. Mellon in the year of his death, to be a free museum located on the National Mall in Washington, DC—it has the distinction of displaying the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the western hemisphere (1937)
  • John D Rockefeller Jr. donated the NYC East River site to the United Nations (1947)
  • Mick Jagger & Keith Richards first performed together as Little Boy Blue & the Blue Boys (1962)
  • Halle Berry became the first African-American actor to win the Academy award for best actress, after her role in “Monster’s Ball” (2002)
  • Bhutan officially became a democracy, with its first ever general election (2008)
  • Pope Francis declared that women will be included in annual Easter week ritual that formerly involved only men (2016)

Also on this day in 1930, the late-actor Steve McQueen was born in Indiana.Steve_McQueen-driverslicense

Interesting to note that on his 14th birthday, across the ocean, 76 Allied prisoners of World War II began breaking out of a Nazi German camp in Poland through secretly-dug tunnels, an event he would later help bring to life in the epic 1963 film, The Great Escape.

Photo by iDominick, CC license

Happy 46th Birthday to Jim Parsons, the Houston actor who studied theater and went on to win two Emmy Awards for his lead role as Sheldon on the comedy series The Big Bang Theory, which has run for 11 seasons. (1973)

And on this day 12 years ago, I started writing this column, ‘Good News on This Day in History.’geri gnn 4 launch-at imac

I wanted to provide a daily accounting of positive anniversaries for people on their birthdays—maybe because on mine I always hear about the anniversaries of so many disasters, like the bombing of the Morrow Building in Oklahoma City, for example. The best thing about the column, for me, is continually learning something new… Visit GNN’s homepage daily to get a tasty dose of history!


  1. The movie The Great Escape, while a good movie, is nothing more than Hollywood fantasy, and bears only marginal resemblance to the REAL story of the 77 Allied officers who escaped from Stalag Luft III in 1944.

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