Colditz: The Full Story
P. R. Reid
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The Germans thought escape was impossible. These men proved them wrong.
Colditz Castle, located near Leipzig Germany, was the last stop for select Allied prisoners during World War II. It was here, a reportedly impregnable fortress, that the Germans sent all the prisoners who escaped from other prisons. Once within the walls, the Germans reasoned, escaping was impossible. Yet during the four-year period when the castle was used as a prison, over three hundred men escaped, thirty-one through Nazi Germany.
Prisoners from ten different Allied countries worked together to form a truly international escape academy. They created skeleton keys, forged German passes, drafted maps, and constructed all types of tools and machinery out of whatever they could find. The ingenuity of the prisoners knew no bounds: they tried everything from tunneling underneath the castle's walls to hiding in the garbage to disguising themselves as German officers. They even built a glider, which they never used. Resourcefulness and hard work won a few of them their freedom.
Author and former British Army officer, P.R. Reid, was one of the men who escaped from Colditz and made it home to tell the story. This paperback edition, introduced into the Zenith Military Classic series, introduces this thrilling WWII story to a new generation of readers. Four appendices at the end of book provide a full listing of prisoners and staff, all of the attempted escapes, the secret code used to communicate between prisoners and the outside world, and more.
"[T]his book is highly recommended reading."
--The New York Times
The German capitulation was complete and Allied solidarity, aided by the Swiss Commission outside, had won a memorable victory. The Germans’ arrogance of 1941 and 1942 was changing and, from this day in May 1944 onwards, the prisoners in Colditz began to feel solid ground once more beneath their feet. The episode was an important turning-point. The prisoners knew that Hitler and his minions intended to use them as hostages in the hour of defeat. Here was a gleam of hope. Padre Platt commented
He said, “The thing is so bad as to be funny. 1,500 French will arrive on Friday; they are on foot from IVB, eighty miles away. All the British, including the Gaullistes and Czechs, will have to accommodate themselves in the Kellerhaus, officers on first three floors, orderlies on fourth floor, ex-Belgian quarters. No day/dining-place, have to live entirely in dormitories. A twelve percent cut in rations next week!” The new French prisoners arrived in fact on the following Monday, the 26th,
lay three dead men of the Volkssturm, one of them only about seventeen years old, lying behind a primitive shelter of barrows and barbed wire. “Even a hundred years ago this would not have stopped anyone,” Eggers thought. What made them die like this? As we walked I saw what lay in store for our women as one was being dragged along by an American soldier who also had a whisky bottle clutched in his hand; she cried to me, “Help, help.” [Eggers’ implication that the woman was about to be raped is
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telling their Allies that they were virtually certain they were infiltrated by a spy. 4 Restless Captives Spring 1941 ON 9 APRIL, AS IF TO SIGNAL the opening of the “escaping season,” the British contingent was summoned to the courtyard to have fingerprints and identity photographs taken by a Berlin Gestapo expert. A preposterous number of smudged prints and grimacing photos resulted. This occurrence lends credence to the statement made by General Le Brigant in his book that the Gestapo under