AFHI Virtual Museum - The Story of Stalag Luft III
 

Stalag Luft III Header


"A Legacy Website" 

Prisoners of War speakingFollow the links on the right to view one of the Air Force Academy's first digital humanities projects. The content in this web site, which still resides in the Clark Special Collections at the Academy's McDermott Library, was selected, organized, and processed by three Academy cadets taking a series of independent study courses from the English Department in the mid 1990s:

  • Jenn Askins, Class of 1998. 

  • Chris Backus, Class of 1999.

  • Ed Rivera, Class of 1999. 

The HTML files they produced using a simple text editor went online and remained available from the Academy's web server until March, 2017. As the 21st Century dawned, the Air Force Humanities Institute arranged for the material to be included in an attempt to create a virtual museum. Creating a virtual museum back then was a daunting project, which never quite reached completion, except for its Stalag Luft III wing, which is reproduced here.

Working under a contract with the Air Force Academy, Robb Zerr of ComStation.com kept the organizational plan and content used by the cadets and improved upon the site by designing the distinctive template for the Stalag Luft III website and by employing what was then state of the art client-side scripting to enhance the site's interactivity. That the website still functions well and looks good after all these years is a testiment to the vision of the cadets who first developed the website and to Robb's design skills. To prepare the website for viewing, only a few changes had to be made: updating contact information, removing a few broken links, and converting the original video files to a contemporary format. 

Still, you may notice a few things that anchor this legacy website in the early days of the Internet:

  • Although updated from its initial Real Media format, left unchanged are the original video resolution and size, artifacts of the low bandwidth typically available to most in the 1990s. These were the days before YouTube.

  • Image sizes were intentionally small to control download times when most users connected to the Internet using telephone modems. Keep in mind that the standard VGA screen resoltion in those days was 640 x 480 pixels.

  • The site is heavy on instructions for clicking here and there to interact with the material, a nod to the inexperience of typical Internet users during this time.

The story of the typical Stalag Luft III Kriege (from the German term for prisoner of war, Kriegsgefangener ) began before dawn at an airfield somewhere in England, North Africa, or Italy.  It ended months or years later with the liberation of Stalag VIIA on April 29, 1945.

Start the story... >>