Fredrick Irving's plane was shot down over Magyarovar, Hungary during World War II. Right after hitting the ground, three Hungarian farmers tried several times to execute him; on the final attempt, it was only the intervention of German soldiers, who wanted Irving as a POW, that saved him. He was then interrogated by an American who had switched to the German side and who already had a lengthy dossier on Irving, thanks to German sleeper agents in the U.S. who collected information on American citizens. Irving then spent nine months in the same German POW camp where the “Great Escape” had taken place just months before.
In early 1945, the POWS were ordered to vacate the camp after they refused to fight in a counter-offensive against the approaching Soviet troops. Once he was finally liberated after months of starvation, brutality, and brutal cold he weighed less than 100 pounds. Irving let nothing stand in his way to survive, but at the same time, he did not lose his humanity.