The 2012 'Making of The Great Escape' Tour


Photographs of this tour can be viewed below....


A number of interested people contacted this website via email and arrived in Fussen at their own speed....

The Advert:

The 'Making' of The Great Escape Film will be 50 years old in 2012 so it has been decided to organise a 'tour' for all those fans interested in joining the fun. Please contact me if you are interested in joining us from the 6th August 2012.The meeting point will be at the Hotel Guglhupf where hopefully all interested parties will reside.....

French TV reporter hitching a lift....
Hi Don,
try to check with Monika but no answers yet, can you ask her if I can have a room for 4 nights ?
I check planes and I have a fly who arrive in Munchen at 8:15 on monday morning I can wait at the airport, and a departure on Friday at 21:15,
so I can come with you in your car if you have one place in your car.
I will come with 2 cameras, and microphone HF.
let me know if all is ok before fly confirmation.
Chris ( )


On Tuesday, 7th August 2012 interested friends arrived for breakfast at the Hotel Guglhupf and a discussion on where to go next was considered....

(The 2012 tour started just after breakfast when a group of lovely people arrived with a common interest and a sense of fun)

Hello Don,
A quick  hello from Vancouver  with envy for those who made it to Fussen for your TOUR.  I'm sure  everyone is enjoying the sunshine as
you tour around with  your enthusiastic group  of  movie buffs.  Looking forward to reading all about on your website very soon.
Again great work on what you have done on the website and for all that have contributed to it.
Looking forward to meeting you someday in Fussen.
Rob (7.8.12)

Hello Don
Yesterday was Great (escape) Day for me. Even my time was extrem limited but it was a pleasure to Join you and your Friends
Had you got New informations at the Investigation ?? Hope to get News from you
Best wishes from
Christian from Munich ( ) (8.8.12)

This is the owner of the Pergola in Hopfen Am See. He brought the guest book and the registers along for all to view...



Tina, the waitress, is in the background and must be the most beautiful waitress in the world !!


Dear Don, 
enclosed please find the link to the photos for viewing and a link for the download of all in one zip-file (it's pretty big and might take some time).

Link to Website:

Thank you again for letting me join, it's been a great pleasure and a brilliant day!
Love to hear from you if you could use some of the pictures.
Best wishes, 
Christian (12.8.12)

 Hope this mail finds you back safely in very old England.  Just wanted to thank you for all you did to make my time so memorable.  Was really terrific.
I have enclosed some photos including the ones I got of the crash location, just in case you did not get there or had bad weather.  I patterned my shot after the one with the troops on the road below (see attached) I think I may have even found the crooked tree.
Was terrific how all worked out.  What do for an encore next year? ( I am going to find those rail and hay locations if it kills me)
Best to you,
Steve (10.8.12)

Don, it was just to say thank you so much for a great few days. Had a fantastic time and this couldn't have been achieved without your work. Fantastic bunch of guys and hope we can meet for a drink in the not too distant future.
Auf wiedersehn PET                

Judith (11.8.12)


Locating the 'Trip Wire' scene in Hopfen Am See....  

Next location was the Pergola Hotel, Hopfen Am See....  

This location was just outside Hopfen Am See and is where Steve McQueen 'mouthed' SWITZERLAND in the film....

Chris from Munich arrives suddenly in Speiden....  

Ludwig caught on camera in the small hamlet of Speiden....


Ludwig with his friends, who were also German extras in The Great Escape film, explaining their experiences with Chris the documentary reporter in the Hotel Christine, Speiden....

Now where did Nigel Stock get captured by the German soldiers whilst sitting quietly in a German lorry....



Filming at the 'Hut scene' with Zell in the background....


In search of the 'Holy Stool'....


Josef knew that his stool was priceless by the number of people who took time out to sit on it....

The 'shy' stool is introduced to the camera....



The 'fence' is in that direction....

Guessing where the 'jump' scene was exactly located....

I think it's this way....

No, it's this way....

Or is it this way....

The 'ditch' was located in this part of the field....

This was approximately where the 'fence' was built for Steve McQueen to crash into....

Josef finally explained exactly where the 'ditch' and the 'fence' were located in his 'iconic' field....


Spot the difference....


The famous 'Steve McQueen Poster' location....


Tuesday, 7th August 2012 an evening meal at the Hotel Christine, Speiden....

This is Hans Schwab who lives in Hopferau and he appeared in the film as the soldier who asked Steve McQueen to raise his arms up after McQueen had crashed into the fence....




Hans was also the German soldier at the 'James Coburn cafe' scene on the bridge where the French Resistance shot three soldiers. Hans was the soldier on the left side of the group who stood up just before the shots were fired....

Hans Schwab at the Hotel Christine, Speiden explaining his experiences on the filming of  The Great Escape.

He was 21 years old and he was  paid the equivalent sum of money today around about 400 euros....

Hans with his daughter....

Having dinner together at Hotel Christine, Speiden. Steve from the USA is making a touching speech about the film and thanking everyone for attending The 2012 'Making of The Great Escape Tour' organised by Don.J.Whistance....


The next day: Locations around the town of Old Fussen....

The rowing boat scene with Charles Bronson & John Leyton....

Roof top scene with Richard Attenborough....


The scene where Gordon Jackson collides with a cyclist took place near an Archway, Old Fussen.

A cyclist was called over to re-enact the scene and when he saw The Great Escape scene on the ipad he screamed out, "That's my Father!"


Richard Attenborough is captured by a German Officer: "Herr Bartlett....your German is good."


The scene where Gordon Jackson & Richard Attenborough are caught out by, "Good Luck!"


James Coburn 'French Resistance' scene on the bridge....



Fussen Railway Station where David McCallum was shot....


Jackie's Hairdresser's shop in Weissbach....

Thursday, 9th August 2012 relaxing up in the Breitenbergbahn, Pfronten mountains in a cable car for lunch and the view....


Chris the French camera man finally cracked after sitting in the back of a car full of 'Monty Python'  Englishmen for the he is announcing to everyone in the car rental garage to follow the website:


Sadly.....he wont be missed !!




The history behind the 2012 tour...
Hi Don,
we might possible be interested in the tour in August 2012.
Regards Anthony Goode  (20.8.11)
hi, my name is Chris, first my English is not very perfect so my apologises for that...
i read all of your work on the great escape and congratulations, your work is the best I read since many years. I'm a French journalist and the great escape is one my favourite movies I'm 45 years old and when I was 10, I saw this film and never forget it....anyway, I contact you because I want to make a tv report on it next year with of course the travel tour you will organise next year. 50 years later....I will be enjoy to find James Garner, David mc cullum, Sir richard Attenborough and Katherine Sturges for interviews and maybe some others you maybe help me to find. Can I reach you by phone to talk with you.
Chris Espenan ( )


Hi Don,

I’ve been visiting your site  since you first put it up last year, when you did your first trip to Bavaria. Without wishing to sound corny or sycophantic, I’ve been a Steve McQueen fan for as long as I can remember and The Great Escape is my all-time number one film, very closely followed by Bullitt. This kind of fan-orientated  attention to detail on the film is something I’ve always aspired to attempt myself, however twentieth century living has got in the way, children, work, bills, etc, etc,..,so when I saw you were hoping to organise a trip for the fiftieth anniversary of the filming, I was cock-a hoop with excitement. If you manage to pull it off Don, I would be very interested to be offered a place on this trip for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Congratulations on the site Don, it’s absolutely fantastic, but then again I knew it would be, because I’ve followed your Clash site for ages,

All the best Don, and hope to hear from you soon,

Kind Regards,

Sten Sawicz ( )

Accrington, NW England.

Hi Don,
Regarding the tour next Aug. 6. I will be looking at changing my plans to join you and letting my cousin in the UK know about it also as he might have some interest in the tour. First will it just be a one day tour of the sites on Aug. 6 or do you
plan on being there a day or two before and after the 6th? My plan was to fly home to Vancouver from Frankfurt on Aug 9th or 10th as I want to give myself enough time for the tour and any extra time.
Rob ( )  (24.11.11)
Hi Don,
Another question regarding this August in Fussen.  Will this be your last trip to the area regarding Great Escape  movie location sites etc? It seems you have located most if not all the locations for the movie will it culminate  this August with the 50th anniversary  of the movie for those couple of days in Fussen for those of us who will be there. It should be a fun time.

As I have told in previous emails about  my 2  trips to Fussen - 2008 / 2011 - I had fun checking out the sites from the information on your website and will be looking forward to finalizing the locations of  all the sites hopefully this year.   The added enjoyment was riding around the area on my motorcycle for those days. Not only retracing the locations, but also the scenery of the area. It is a great riding area for motorcyclists.
For the trip to Fussen prior to my flight home to Vancouver from Frankfurt. I will have to sort out how I will get to Fussen. I will either rent a car from Frankfurt or take the train. If I took the train I would have to hope I could share a ride  with someone for the time in Fussen. I will sort this out at it gets closer. Before deciding to take the train I will post an email on your site for anyone attending about sharing a ride with them - along with offering to pay for gas and some beers.
Would it be possible for you to have all the people who have plans on going to Fussen this August be on the same group emailing list so we  know who is going and can contact each other if we want?

Talk to you later,

( ) (9.1.12)

Dear Don,
I was very excited to come across your site today.

I am a Canadian writer currently working on a book about Michael Paryla, a family relative and a German-born actor and refugee from Nazism who had the part of the Gestapo agent in The Great Escape: he arrives by motorcade to ‘Neustadt’ and then boards the train and has some lines opposite Richard Attenborough and David McCallum and Gordon Jackson. Mr Paryla was living in Munich when he was cast as an extra. He is not credited. He died three years later, tragically, in Hamburg. Interestingly, this is where the British tried the war criminals responsible for murdering the 50 escaped prisoners; Mr Paryla played one of these characters in the movie. It is ironic that he also died there, and is buried — ironically as well — south of Munich, in Waldfriedhof Cemetery which is in Grunewald, very close to the Bavariafilmstadt.

I visited the Bavaria Film studios in October/November of 2010, on a research mission, very much like your own. The attendants at the gates to the film studio told me that ‘an American’ had recently been here and that he was also looking for area where the prison camp was built, and for the train station Neustadt. I was sent by these people on a wild goose chase of sorts— judging from your photos we walked the same roads, crossed the same bridges. I was happy to see in your photos the same old brick train station that I came across; I was not sure it was the one, but now I am.   

I have read an amount about the movie and its making but you seem to be more of an expert than me. I was wondering if perhaps I could ask you some questions, as I am on a research mission that is both personal and professional (I am writing a book called This Great Escape about Michael Paryla). I saw in your photos a call sheet from the movie; where is that from? I would love to find some material from the making of the movie with Mr Paryla’s name on it. I have been trying to contact the casting agency Stalmaster Lister with no luck. Anyways, mind if I get in touch? Parallels between Mr. Paryla’s life and the film and the history behind the film are quite interesting.

Andrew Steinmetz ( )
Ottawa, Canada


Hi don. It will be about 6 years since I went to fussen to seek the locations of my favourite movie. Being a mad Steve McQueen fan I couldn't wait to visit this part of bavaria. It is truly magnificent. If there's a trip, count me in!!!!
Judith ( )
Are you coming on the tour?

From what I can say now I will take part together with my girlfriend.


Hi Don,

I’m still interested, however there might be a potential clash regarding your dates, as I have a prior engagement in Manchester on Tuesday the 7th  August which I can’t get out of. Will this be a problem ?

Kind Regards,


Dear Don,
I haven't planned anything yet - so I should be in Füssen beginning of August.
I'll "warn" Doris & Sep that you'll be coming - Sep always enjoys telling stories about days long gone by - "The Great Escape" is one of his highlights.
By the way - I've gathered quite a few GPS-Coordinates from the GE-Locations and made riddles for to find thee. I'm planning to close the Cache-Series soon. By then I should have cleaned everything online. Some of the Caches are not yet translated, but that will change as soon as I find the time.

See you in August

I will be there. Brian

Don I have just booked my room with monika. I booked from the 5th aug Sunday for 3 nights, leaving on the Wednesday morning.

Hi Don,
My room confirmation. I have asked Monika to change my check to Aug. 10th.


Hello Don,

   Have enjoyed your site immensely.  I was stationed in the US Army just north of the filming locations (Augsburg) in 1965 and news of the filming was still quite fresh.  In visits since I have visited the area a number of times, but could never nail down the exact locations in the film.  You have done a terrific job.
  I may be able to join the group on August 6, but in any event would be grateful to hear where and when that day you plan to meet and any other info you would care to share.
 I am about 90% German fluent (i.e. about the same as my English!!!!) and could lend a hand in that regard if that would help.
 My personal quest for now is to nail down the airfield where Garner and Pleasance steal the plane.  I have a number of friends in Augsburg who I will put on the case.  If it is Bavaria, only a few come into question and one does see hardened shelters in a couple of the shots which makes it military for sure.  Lager Lechfeld and Fuerstenfeldbruck seem possible, but also Oberpfaffenhofen and Kaubeuern.
 Hope you hear from you and also that you are not getting swamped with inquiries!
All the best!
Steve Gay
Clinton, CT USA ( )


Hi Don,
          I will be in Germany on my bike from August 10th for the German Yamaha triples club annual event [Treffen]. Last year it was my hope to visit the GE but this did not happen. On reading the article in MCN this week (27th June 2012) my enthusiasm is fired again.
My ferry is booked to arrive in Zeebruga Friday 10th August. If this does not fit in with the tour I may still visit Pfronten area and look for the classic site of Steve at the border sign.
Let me know what you think.
Ken Dornan ( )







Hi Don,
Many thanks for the email. A PDF should be winging your way before the end of the week and I'll try to get your email onto our letters page. Hope this helps.
Best regards
Phil West,
Executive Editor
Motor Cycle News


Dear Don,

My name is Toni Papadakis. I am German-Greek, I am 50 years old and I live in Germany near Stuttgart. First of all I would like to congratulate you for the great website. The film "The Great Escape" is one of my favourite movies. I've always wanted to visit the locations, but there are other stories which connect me with this movie.

If its possible I would like to join your group on 6th August 2012. Then we can respond in detail to the stories and exchange views. The only problem is that I will come back from my Greece vacation on 5th of August 2012 and due to this I am not sure if time allows me to participate on your trip.

Hence my question now is: It is necessary for a firm commitment ? Or can I reach the group without binding on 6thof August 2012 on the place indicated “Hotel Gugelhupf in D-87645 Schwanghau”? If its possible can you send me the exact time to be there ?

Unfortunately my English is not very good. I hope I can still participate on your tour and we will find a way to talk to each other.

I appreciate your prompt response.

Kind regards,

Toni Papadakis

Hi Don, just spent a very interesting couple of hours going through your first class website and I was very interested to see you are
organising a trip round some of this great film's locations. I would like to know if there are still places available on this tour at this
late stage, and is the timetable confirmed yet please?
Kind Regards
Peter Wilson (13.7.12)

The son of The Great Escape camera man,Walter Riml,is coming on the tour.............

Dear Mr. Whistance,
on your website
we surprisingly found photos that were made by my father Walter Riml, without naming him nor the copyright remark of our website
Also the picture of the call sheet was taken without asking for permission, to be found originally also on our site.
I am the son of Walter Riml who was cameraman of the film The Great Escape, shown on the pictures from our website.
We would like you to add the copyright-remarks to those pictures you took from our homepage.
As I live in Innsbruck it would be possible to meet you at Hotel Guglhupf for further information.
It might be interesting for you as well as we have original documents, also call sheets, from the shooting and more than 150 photos taken by my father.
 On our second homepage, www. , showing the only tyrolean film history in the internet you find some other information. Both archives and the researches are done by my wife Helma Türk and myself on a private base and without any public help.
Looking forward, to find our copyright text on your page we remain
yours sincerely
Dr.Christian Riml + Helma Türk 
PS : Quotation:
 Copyright: WaRis - Tiroler Filmarchiv, Dr. Christian Riml
WaRis - Tiroler Filmarchiv
Helma Türk & Dr. Christian Riml (18.7.12)
Dear Don,
Many thanks for the mentioning of our homepage on your fantastic website. We are very glad about it. By the way, you see my father sitting on the Chapman crane wearing a white shirt...

We are looking forward meeting you at Hotel Guglhupf on the 6th of august, late afternoon, I just received the conformation of my booking from Monika.

Please send our best regards and good wishes to Bob Relyea from "Walter Riml´s son", who thinks back very often to the Solar production of the 24 hours in Le Mans in 1970. I was at that time production assistant to Hubert Fröhlich in that  film production.
Looking forward meeting you at Schwangau
Yours sincerely,
Dr.ChristianRim + Helma Türk (19.7.12)
Hi Don,
 Well after much travail, I am on for the trip.  Booked firm yesterday via Brussels and Frankfurt (nothing is easy) I have written Monika about a room.  I am sure all her's are now gone, but I asked her if she knew something nearby she could recommend.
 Tell me your flight details (Easy Jet in at 10 something?) and if you are still going on to Markt Schwaben, and or bavariafilm?  What your eta in Fussen is etc. and I will think about how I can best connect up.
  Look forward to hearing from you.
Best from very sunny New England,
PS - A young man who runs the website Mittenwald Bahn who did a lot of work with me on the rail locations may be interested in coming.  Should I tell him we kick off Aug 6 afternoon, main day is August 7??? (23.7.12)

Local newspaper wrote a feature in their magazine outlining the background to the tour.

Click on the PDF



"Herr Bartlett?"

"Your German is good."

"And I hear also your French."

"Your arms......up!"


Karl Otto Alberty lives in Berlin and he can be contacted via his Facebook page.

Steve Gay has spoken to Karl (25.7.12) and he has been officially invited onto the tour. Let's hope he is available........


Hi Don,
just return from my USA trip, of course steve can come with me in my room….
I found someone in L.A who have  a 8mm shot with Fence jump by Bud Ekins, a different angle….!!!!! and a lot of things ….
try to call you tonight.
Chris (29.7.12)
I was thinking it will be great to make this message on your website.
Hi All,
I will be with all of you on this travel tour…first my apologizes for my poor english. I hope you will have patience with me. I will come with Broadcast material, and of course my Computer. I ask you who have some materials, details or others stuff from "The great Escape movie" to come with on 6th. I will record interviews and pictures. at this moment I will just make sequences for a future documentary. It just the beginning. For me it's important to have emotion and fun on the recording.
Thanks for your help.

Chris (29.7.12)


"with kind permission of the Allgäuer Zeitung"


Allgaeu Newspaper August 10, 2013 Film Fans Bring a Classic Back to Life

The Great Escape flying visit to the film locations

Fuessen:  His homepage for the cult film “The Great Escape” has “had 17000 visits and every week it increases”, Don J. Whistance proudly claims.  The film fan from England was not in Fuessen by coincidence.  Once again he was visiting the original locations here in the “Kings Corner” in which the filming of this classic took place in 1963 – For example at the Fuessen Rail Station

Here an international group of film fans set up shop.  In the group were the Scotsman Kevin Payne, American Stephen Gay, Munich’s Christian Becher as well as Fuessen film fans Christine Ranke and Thomas Hugenschmidt to have a few days fun following the tracks of the film.  “There are fans who know the scenes very exactly and want to know how the locations where filming took place look today”, noted Gay. And some scenes are actually re-created, albeit with quite a few winks of the eye. Gay bought his first movie ticket for “the Great Escape” in a small town movie theatre in the US.

Christian Becker from Munich only knew the route from television.  Still, he is a fan of the “real Hollywood film which was filmed on our doorstep”.  That’s “absolutely unique”.  “We were all brought together by this terrific film”, as Kevin Payne summarized.

About the Film:

-         “The Great Escape” is about a mass break out from a German POW camp during World War II.  The story is based on fact.  Basis for the film was the book “The Great Escape” by Paul Brickhill.

-         More than a dozen world famous actors took part. Among them Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasance and James Coburn.

-         All the interior scenes were filmed at the Bavaria Film Studios near Munich. The POW camp was erected in the adjacent Perlacher Forest.  The latter part of the film, the escape, was filmed in and around Fuessen with the participation of a number of locals.

(Caption for Photo) – Recreated scene from the film “the Great Escape”: Shots ring out at the Fuessen Railway station.  Film fans (from left) Thomas Hugenschmidt, Don Whistance, Stephen Gay, Christian Ranke, Kevin Payne and Christian Becher remember.

From the 2nd October 2013 through to January 2014 there will be an exhibition celebrating the filming of The Great Escape in the Town Hall, Fussen.

Hi Don,
Great to hear from you and I love your site.  No clue about the hay bales - when we journeyed to Bavaria in 93, we didn't have the movie on an ipad to reference, kind of bumped our way around estimating where things were - did find the site in Fussen for the French tavern where Coburn witnesses the resistance attack and a few odds and ends. 
I'll keep in touch through Chris - if we can manage to get a broadcast entity to air a 50th Anniversary special, we can definitely promote the site. 

All best and Merry Christmas
Steve Rubin (December 2012)


Hey Don,

Sorry but I screwed that up.  The guy on the right is Steve Rubin, an associate of Chris. Steve is out of L.A. and the two of them made plans to meet me here in  Vegas.  In fact, if you go to your web site, you have a message from Steve that you published along with some of the other correspondence.  I sure hope you guys are able to interest some major entity into distributing your project.  I haven't heard from Chris or Steve since they departed my home but I'm waiting to see a finished product so if you
have any pull, please ask someone to send me a copy.  Best of luck and perhaps one day we'll all get together (in Vegas, naturally) for something of a reunion. 

Lawrence (12.11.13)




5. And so a year passed and the camera brought along some friends....


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