Colditz Castle was it as escape proof as it was thought to be.

johnnydodStarred Page By johnnydod, 13th Aug 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

A look at Colditz Castle its history and how it was not quite escape proof as it was thought to be.

Thimo I Lord of Colditz

Situated on a hill near in the town of Colditz near Leipzig in Dresden sits a renaissance castle called Colditz Castle it was built around 1200 by the Lord of Colditz Thimo, and by the middle ages it played an significant role as a belvedere or lookout post, in 1430 the Hussite, a Christian movement set fire to the castle and town, later Prince Ernest renovated the town and castle and in 1486 and the castle then became a royal residence.

As if doomed not to be, a servant in the castle called “Clemens the Baker” accidentally set Colditz on fire again,” come to think about it wasn't it a Baker that started the great fire of London?” Anyway not to be outdone by the last fire, this fire spread to the city hall, church, and a large part of the city all went up in flames, “If you are going to do a job, do it properly I say” once again reconstruction began and in 1506 the castle buildings were rebuilt, but not much of the original castle was left,
Between 1553 and 1586 in the reign of Augustus of Saxony the castle and surrounding buildings were reconstructed into a Renaissance style castle and eventually the castle became an administrative centre for the Office of Colditz.

Colditz today

During the 19th century the castle was used as a workhouse to feed the poor, the ill, and prisoners and in 1829, it became a mental hospital for the "incurably insane, It remained a mental institution until 1924.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they turned the castle into a political prison for communists, homosexuals, Jews, and other "undesirables" and by 1939 allied prisoners,

By the outbreak of World War II and because of the castles position, situated on a rocky outcrop above a river, the castle was converted into a high security prisoner-of-war camp exclusively for officers who had become escape risks, the prisoners were held in a courtyard inside a 90 ft. tall building the yard and building were continuously guarded by armed sentries and surrounded by barbed wire, to the Germans it was known as Oflag IV-C doesn’t have quite the ring of “Colditz Castle” does it?

Tunnels and Gliders

Even though the Germans considered Colditz as a high security prison it had one of highest successful escape attempts, but I don’t think we can really blame Colditz, the fact that most of the prisoners had a high record of attempted escapes from other prisons made it a challenge to most of them.

The Germans thought it was escape-proof, but the prisoners thought otherwise.
Apart from the many tunnels dug there were many weird and wonderful attempts to escape including building a glider of floorboards and bed sheets.
The French had the best record out of 34 attempts they made eight successful escapes, The British also made eight successful escapes but that was out of 79 attempts the Poles tried and failed 13 times as did the Dutch, the Belgians only made one attempt and that was a good one

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Castle, Castles, Christian Movement, Colditz, Communists, German, German Army, German Language, Germans, Germany, Homosexuals, Jews

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author avatar johnnydod
Writers write while dreamers procrastinate.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
14th Aug 2012 (#)

Surprising, some wanted to escape from a castle! That is the real thirst for freedom! Thanks for a nice share of chequered history of a castle, Johnny - siva

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
14th Aug 2012 (#)

I enjoyed this page, Johnny. I knew a little about Colditz and learned a lot more today.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
1st Sep 2012 (#)

great article, thank you for this history ...

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