Hilts (Steve McQueenSteve McQueen) strings a wire across the road to obtain a motorcycle. McQueen himself played the German motorcyclist who hits the wire.
The shooting of the recaptured escapees was one of the charges at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial of [?] Hermann Göring and other Nazi leaders.
[?] Wally Floody, the real-life "Tunnel King" (he was transferred to another camp just before the escape), served as a consultant to the filmmakers, almost full-time, for more than a year.
The motorcycle scenes were not based on real life but were added at Steve McQueenSteve McQueen's suggestion.
Steve McQueenSteve McQueen also personally attempted the jump across the border fence, but crashed. The jump was successfully performed by [?] Bud Ekins.
The real-life escape preparations involved 600 men working for well over a year. The escape did have the desired effect of diverting German resources, including a doubling of the number of guards after the Gestapo took over the camp from the Luftwaffe.
The real-life escape was on the night of 24 March 1944, and the ground was snow-covered. The German town near the prison camp, called Neustadt in the film, was really Sagan (now Zagan, Poland). Steve McQueenSteve McQueen was born on March 24th.
The nationality of a few of the prisoners in the story was changed, emphasizing American, and de-emphasizing Commonwealth and other Allied.
The gold medallion Steve McQueenSteve McQueen wears throughout the film was a present from his wife.
The individual incidents in the film are mostly true, but were rearranged as to both the timing and the people involved. (A note at the start of the film acknowledges this.) For instance, of the 76 who escaped, there were indeed 3 who got away and 50 who were murdered in reprisal, but the murders occurred in small groups, not all at once. (14 Germans were executed after the war for their parts in them.)