Oct 19, 1972 · With David McCallum, Richard Heffer, Paul Chapman, Jack Hedley. The prisoners in Colditz Castle make many attempts to escape captivity from the arrival of the first British prisoners after Dunkirk in 1940 until the liberation of the castle by the Americans in 1945.
Mar 27, 2005 · With Damian Lewis, Sophia Myles, Tom Hardy, Laurence Fox. While WWII Allied officer Jack Rose is held prisoner in Germany's notorious Colditz Castle, he recruits a band of fellow escape artists in the ultimate break-out only to discover that the greatest betrayal awaits him on safe ground.
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Castle Colditz (or Schloss Colditz in German) is a Renaissance castle in the town of Colditz near Leipzig, Dresden and Chemnitz in the state of Saxony in Germany.The castle is between the towns of Hartha and Grimma on a hill spur over the river Zwickauer Mulde, a tributary of the River Elbe.
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Dec 12, 2006 · Colditz is a good film, but one that should definitely have toned down on the fictional elements of the story in order to keep the facts straight. The aspects of the prisoners trying to escape is ...
- Stuart Orme
- MTI Home Video
Colditz Castle, German prisoner-of-war camp in World War II, the site of many daring escape attempts by Allied officers. The castle sits on a steep hill overlooking the Mulde River as it flows through the small Saxon town of Colditz, about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Leipzig.
Colditz Castle, a forbidding medieval edifice near Leipzig, Germany, was supposed to be the Nazis' most escape-proof prison. Incorrigible Allied officers who had repeatedly escaped from other ...
The Town of Colditz. The small town of Colditz is a charming collection of winding streets lined with half-timbered houses. Directly below the castle is a large market square (Markt) with a pleasant outdoor cafe where visitors can sit and admire the view.
- Castle History
- Home to The "Incurably Insane"
- Impenetrable Fortress
- Oflag IV-C
- Prison Life
- The Prominente
- Escape Attempts
- The Ones That Got Away
- Fall of Colditz
The town of Colditz can be found in the middle of the triangle formed by the three great cities of Leipzig, Dresden, and Chemnitz, in the heart of Germany. The first castle was built during the late 11th Century AD at the order of powerful German king Henry IV. From then on the castle played an important role as a watchtower for the German monarchy. In 1504, an accidental fire destroyed a large part of the castle and its reconstruction saw new buildings added to the site. In 1523 the castle grounds was turned into one of the largest zoos in Europe. The castle structure was changed again under the long reign of the elector Augustus of Saxony from 1553 to 1586, when it was reconstructed into a Renaissance style castle with extra courtyards, cellars and hundreds of rooms. The condition of the once proud castle was allowed to deteriorate during the 19th Century, when Colditz was used by Frederick Augustus III as a workhouse to feed the poor, the ill and those under arrest in the city. I...
That year the workhouse at the castle was taken over by an institution in Zwickau and it became a mental hospital for the "incurably insane". For nearly a hundred years, between 1829 and 1924, Colditz was a high-profile sanitarium, generally reserved for the wealthy and the nobility of Germany During this time Germany saw massive upheavals after the Napoleonic Wars destroyed the Holy Roman Empire and created the German Confederation. All the while Colditz stood firm as a shelter for the insane as it witnessed the lifespan of the North German Confederation and the complete reign of the German Empire, right up until the beginnings of the Weimar Republic. Over this long period it was home to several notable figures including Ludwig Schumann, the second youngest son of the famous composer Robert Schumann, and Ernst Georg August Baumgarten, one of the original inventors of the airship. Colditz was first used as an official Prisoner of War camp during World War One, although no escapes we...
There were many reasons why Colditz castle instilled fear in its prisoners above all other Nazi POW camps for captured officers; this thousand year old fortress was in the heart of Hitler's Reich, some four hundred miles from any frontier not under Nazi control. Its outer walls were seven feet thick and the cliff on which it was built had a sheer drop of some two hundred and fifty feet to the River Mulde below. For any prisoner, chance of escape was slim and even if you did make it outside, you had a long and arduous trek ahead of you to freedom. The sheer fact that it had endured for a millennium made it a highly potent symbol of German strength, which Hitler exploited no end.
This was the name given to Colditz castle during WWII, Oflag being an abbreviation for Offizierslager, which is German for "officers camp". The first prisoners arrived in November 1939; they were 40 Polish officers who had been branded 'escape risks'. A year later captured British RAF officers were transported there, all who had escaped from previous Oflags. A famous group was the Laufen Six, named after the camp from which they made their first escape. By Christmas 1940 there were 60 Polish officers, 12 Belgians, 50 French, and 30 British, a total of no more than 200 with their orderlies. Not only did the Nazis have to deal with a prison population entirely made up of proven escape artists, Colditz itself was a very large prison and so it was quite a difficult task keeping the castle running in a secure and efficient manner. As a result Oflag IV-C maintained a larger garrison than at many of the other prison camps; between the years of 1939 and 1945, more than 70 German officers an...
Day to day at Colditz was far from a sombre, empty experience; if you were to visit it you probably would be surprised by how much of a bustling hive of activity it was. Aside from the prison guards, there were also a large number of civilians and local townspeople who would be on castle grounds. These included maintenance workers, medics, Swiss Red Cross observers. Some would be there in a supervisory role, such as Nazi Party leaders, while others would be on grounds simply because they were family members of the military officers at the camp. For the prisoners themselves, they were permitted to entertain themselves. In August 1941 the first camp Olympics were organized by the Polish inmates, with events including football, volleyball, boxing and chess. Inmates also put on revues, shows and plays, while the most popular sporting pasttime was entirely invented by the prisoners: stoolball was essentially a version of rugby, but which had two stools at either end of the prisoners' cou...
There were many famous Allied prisoners imprisoned in Colditz and these included British fighter ace Douglas Bader; Patrick Reid, the man who made Colditz famous with his post-war books; and Airey Neave, the first British officer to escape from Colditz and who later became a British Member of Parliament. Others included New Zealand British Army Captain Charles Upham, who was the only combat soldier to ever receive the Victoria Cross twice; and Sir David Stirling, founder of the wartime Special Air Service. Prisoners who were relatives of Allied VIPs could potentially be used by Hitler as bargaining tools; these individuals were known as Prominente. The first prisoner of this kind was Giles Romilly, a civilian journalist who was captured in Norway but who was also a nephew of Winston Churchill. The serious political ramifications of The British Prime Minister's nephew coming to harm meant that Adolf Hitler himself specified that Romilly was to be treated with the utmost care. As the...
Despite being a daunting prospect, there were a number of escape attempts, each using a range of plans. Inmates duplicated keys to various doors, made copies of maps, forged identity papers, and manufactured their own tools. Less daring plans included pretending to be ill or mentally unhinged in an effort to get repatriated on medical grounds. Some prisoners even managed to communicate with the outside world. The British War Office communicated with the prisoners in code and smuggled them new escape aids disguised in care packages sent from their families. However, the Germans soon became skilled at intercepting packages containing suspicious material. Other methods used, which seem straight out of a film, include inmates being sewn into mattresses, trying to navigate through the sewers below the castle, long-term tunnel digging and the tying together of bed sheets to form rope! Although people did actually escape from Colditz and return to their homeland, most of the escape attempt...
The ultimate goal for anyone trying to escape was a Home Run, which is a complete escape from the castle grounds and into Allied territory. There is some debate over how many of these actually happened. Successful escapee and British Captain Pat Reid claims in his account Colditz: The Full Story that there were 31 Home Runs, including those who were repatriated due to illness prisoners who being transported and therefore were not directly under Colditz staff control. However, in Colditz: The Definitive History historian Henry Chancellor claims 32 escaped but only 15 were Home Runs: these were 1 Belgian, 11 British, 7 Dutch, 12 French and 1 Polish. The first to escape was French Lieutenant Alain Le Ray, who did so on April 11th, 1941. He managed to get out of the castle by hiding in a terrace house in a park during a game of football. Seizing the moment he managed to reach neutral Switzerland and freedom. Another French officer worthy of mention was Lieutenant Pierre Mairesse Lebrun,...
In April 1945, US troops entered Colditz town to conquer the castle. As the troops approached the castle, the Allies and prisoners feared the Prominente might be used by the German troops as hostages, human shields, or that the SS might try to kill them out of spite. However, this was not the case as the Germans moved all the Prominente out of the castle. This decision was made after the prisoners themselves convinced the guard leader Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger to surrender in secret. With his aide these VIP prisoners reached American lines a couple of weeks later and Berger later received a lessened sentence after his hearing in 1949 because of his actions. On April 16, after only two days the once-mighty prison for the enemies of The Third Reich crumbled. In May 1945, the Soviet occupation of Colditz began and following the Yalta Conference the city became a part of East Germany. The Soviets turned Colditz castle into a prison camp for local burghers and non-communists and l...