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Page last updated at 07:15 GMT, Tuesday, 14 December 2010
The Long Walk to freedom
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The Long Walk - watch a clip from BBC South West's Inside Out

After a 60 year silence, a Camborne man says he is the real inspiration behind a major Hollywood blockbuster due to be released on Boxing Day.

The Way Back tells the story of a Polish teenager who escaped from a Soviet prison camp in Siberia and then walked thousands of miles to freedom.

Witek Glinski told his remarkable tale of how he led an escape from one of Stalin's infamous Gulags on BBC South West's Inside Out programme on Monday 13 December.

It is now available on the BBC iplayer until Monday 20 December.

Not only is the escape of the seven prisoners remarkable in its own right, but Witek Glinski says it's his story told in the worldwide best seller in 'The Long Walk' by Slavomir Rawicz.

Joseph Stalin
Witek Glinski says he led an escape from one of Stalin's infamous Gulags

Rawicz's account was actually discredited a few years ago in a BBC interview. Witek says it was his own escape which led to the book being written.

He says he still bears the scars on his leg where his prison shackles cut into his leg. Witek says he managed to flee his Soviet captors with a number of other prisoners and that conditions on the walk were unimaginable.

"I thought it would be forever. How are you going to cope with a situation like that, to get away and not get caught?"

Witek's idea was to cross the whole of Asia - it was a plan that meant walking for some 4000 miles, which is an average of 12 miles a day.

It took them nearly a year to complete and their struggle for survival is remarkable as, at some points, there was little clean water and they had to hunt for food - they were even forced to eat snakes to stay alive.

The men also came across a Polish girl who was on the run herself. She had escaped from a collective farm where a foreman had abused her.

Witek says: "She heard us from somewhere that she was hiding that we were Polish, and so she came out into the open."

Sadly four of Witek's companions died before they managed to reach safety.

The surviving members of the group reached India and were taken to an army hospital in Calcutta.

Witek eventually joined the Polish Army and, after the war, settled in Cornwall.

The film, The Way Back, is due to be released in cinemas after Christmas.

Inside Out was broadcast at 7.30pm on BBC One on Monday 13 December.

It will now be available for seven days via the BBC iplayer




SEE ALSO
A trip to Auschwitz
10 May 10 |  History
Memories of the Holocaust
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Learning from Evil: Liesl's story
12 May 10 |  History
Learning from Evil: Belsen Horror
11 May 10 |  History
Learning from Evil: Vered's story
14 May 10 |  History
Auschwitz survivors honour the dead
27 Jan 05 |  Europe
Heroes who defied the Holocaust
01 Feb 05 |  From Our Own Correspondent

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