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Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle

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The larger outer court in front of the Kommandantur (commander's offices) had only two exits and housed a large German garrison. The prisoners lived in an adjacent courtyard in a 90ft (27m) tall building. Outside, the flat terraces which surrounded the prisoners' accommodation were watched constantly by armed sentries and surrounded by barbed wire. The prison was named Oflag IV-C (officer prison camp 4C) and was operated by the Wehrmacht. [3] The Museum is small and compact but offers a lot of information on the POW inmates their failed and also successful escapes. There are also lots of pictures and memorabilia from the Period 1941-45 on view.

Much of the drama in MacIntyre’s account centers on the almost continuous succession of attempted escapes, many of which were extremely elaborate and required months of preparation. One British officer tried eight times, but many others were almost equally persistent. Few were successful. Although there are reports of 174 who made their way outside the castle’s walls, only thirty-two of them reached home. Colditz was 400 kilometers from Switzerland, and the route led through vast expanses of heavily policed Nazi territory. Colditz Castle in Germany was used as a prison for troublesome Allied Officers who were prisoners of war and many were sent here as they were repeat offenders of escape attempts. I found this account so interesting; The daily lives of these officers (who were treated fairly well, and according to the Geneva Convention and it's international humanitarian law) and particularly their numerous and imaginative escape attempts....many ultimately unsuccessful but a number that were "home runs". Escape from Colditz - Department of Engineering". www.eng.cam.ac.uk. 6 August 2012 . Retrieved 8 April 2018.In Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle, bestselling historian Ben Macintyre takes us inside the walls of the most infamous prison in history to meet the real men behind the legends. Heroes and bullies, lovers and spies, captors and prisoners living cheek-by-jowl for years in a thrilling game of cat and mouse - and all determined to escape by any means necessary.

The outer courtyard and former German Kommandantur (guard quarters) have been converted into a youth hostel / hotel and the Gesellschaft Schloss Colditz e.V. (the Colditz Castle historical society), founded during 1996, has its offices in a portion of the administration building in the front castle court. A remarkable cast of characters, previously hidden and lost in history emerges - prisoners and captors who lived in a thrilling and horrific game of cat and mouse. Colditz, a forbidding German castle fortress, was the destination for Allied officer POWs, and some other high-profile prisoners. It’s important to know that Colditz was different from POW Stalags for enlisted men run by the often brutal Gestapo and SS guards. Colditz was staffed by Wehrmacht (regular army) personnel who generally complied with the Geneva Convention. According to the Geneva Convention, captors were allowed to set their enlisted prisoners to work—but not officers. As a result, most of the prisoners at Colditz were at the leisure to go stir crazy, unless they thought of other ways to keep their minds busy—like dreaming up escape plans.The somewhat Monty Python-like atmosphere of Colditz Castle – with its prisoners and eccentric escape artists – clashes with the reality of nearby concentration camps, where the extermination of Jews, Sinti-Roma peoples, Slavs, disabled people, political dissidents and religious minorities was carried out through labor and starvation. “Nobody talked about this in Colditz. The German guards said it was an SS thing; the contrast between both kinds of camps was abysmal. It forces us to relativize the history of the castle and its prisoners.”

Anything related to the sexual exploits or frustrations of the prisoners wasn't really something I was keen on reading, but thankfully, it was kept fairly brief. The author made a bit of a stretch, claiming oh so many of the men engaged in homosexual acts. We know some did from memoirs or whatnot, and I'm not so naïve as to think others didn't and just never came out and admitted it. But the author also claimed that it must have been going on in a fairly large scale, while in the same breath, mentioning that (with the aforementioned exceptions) it was never verified/caught onto by the guards/we don't have proof. Well, then, I guess better to leave it at that.

When the 613 bus or minibus arrives pay the driver. The journey takes about ½ hour winding through various small hamlets and countryside The inventiveness that came out of this was remarkable, and one escape attempt followed another. But few were successful in making ‘home runs’. One of only a handful who did was Airey Neave, later a leading Tory politician and supporter of Margaret Thatcher. Divided inmates Macintyre stressed that, in relation to the castle, we must forget – with a few exceptions – the stereotype of brutal Nazi German guards. In fact, the author describes them in his book as very patient with the constant taunting of the British prisoners and the escapes, some of which were truly ridiculous. One involved French Lieutenant Émile Boulé, who tried to walk out the door disguised as a woman.

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