Escape, Evasion and Revenge (ePub)
The True Story of a German-Jewish RAF Pilot who Bombed Berlin and Became a POW
Featured in this Daily Mail article: Son is stunned to discover his war hero father was actually a German-born Jew whose time as a POW inspired character in The Great Escape.
Also covered in The Times.
Peter Stevens was a German-Jewish refugee who escaped Nazi persecution as a teenager in 1933. He joined the RAF in 1939 and after eighteen months of pilot training he started flying bombing missions against his own country. He completed twenty-two missions before being shot down and taken prisoner by the Nazis in September 1941. To escape became his raison d'être and his great advantage was that he was in his native country. He was recaptured after each of his several escapes, but the Nazis never realised his true identity. He took part in the logistics and planning of several major breakouts, including The Great Escape, but was never successful in getting back to England. After liberation, when the true nature of his exploits came to light, he was awarded the Military Cross. He then served as a British spy at the beginning of the Cold War before emigrating to Canada to resume a normal life.
This is the story of a heavily conflicted young man, alone in a world that is in the midst of destruction. He is afforded an opportunity to help his persecuted people to obtain a small measure of revenge. It is at once a sad yet uplifting tale of thankless and unheralded heroism.
The true story of the remarkable man who inspired a Character in The Great Escape film as told by his son.The Daily Express 7/3/16
As featured in.The Daily Mail
As featured in.The Times
While researching a book on the Great Escape years ago, I occasionally came across the name Peter Stevens in memoirs and interviews. There were mentions that he was actually a German Jew serving in the RAF under an assumed name, but no hard evidence that this was anything but a presumption. Not until I read Marc Steven’s fascinating biography on his father did I learn the full story.National Defence Journal, Canada
And it is a remarkable story.
So much could have gone wrong with a biography written on these terms, but Marc Stevens has succeeded admirably. This is not a rose-tinted hagiography by an awe stuck son; rather, it is a judicious and even- handed – “warts and all,” to use the cliché. Stevens was a remarkable man, but in some ways, not a very likeable man. He stole, and then wasted, the last of his mother’s money, which had been sent to Britain to established the three children. When that money was gone, he dabbled in petty crime and eventually landed in jail after being convicted of theft.
But he was never short on courage, and here the depth of the authors research helps him to recreate the very difficult early days of Bomber Command, when accuracy was low, casualties were high, and air crew were overworked.
This is a wartime career that would make any son proud, but Steven’s real triumph is in writing a biography that will satisfy the most discerning historian.