Sunday, 8 February 2009

Colditz Castle - Oflag IV-C

Colditz Castle is an eleventh century castle near Leipzig in Germany that became famous on the world stage during World War Two for being an Allied Officers prisoner of war camp that the Germans believed was impregnable and escape proof.

Colditz was called Oflag IV-C when used as a prisoner of war camp from October 31st 1939 through to 1945.

The first to arrive at the camp on 31st October 1939 were 140 Polish officers from the Polish campaign who the Germans would be at risk of escape. By October 1940 British officers from the RAF were then stationed at Colditz.

Within a month the British officers tried their first attempt to escape from the camp which was unsuccessful. By Christmas 1940 the number of Officers in Colditz had risen to 142 made up of 60 Polish officers (the other 80 Polish officers had been moved to another camps), 50 French officers, 30 British officers and 12 Belgium officers.

In April 1941 the Germans belief that Colditz could never be escaped from was found to be untrue when Alain le Ray, a French officer, successfully escaped.

By July 1941 the number of officers imprisoned in Colditz had risen to over 500 and many more unssuccesful escape attempts had been tried by the Dutch, French and British.

In 1943 The German Wermacht decided that Colditz should only house British and American officers so all the officers of other Allied countries were sent to other Oflags across Germany.

By the winter of 1944 Colditz had a population of 254 British and German. In 1945 Germany decided to start bringing prisoners of all types to Colditz and a few Polish and French officers were imprisoned there before 1200 French soldiers were bought into Colditz castle and the town below.

On April 16th 1945 the American army liberated Colditz and the prisoners held within.

Below are the German Kommandants of Colditz through World War Two.
  • Oberst Schmidt 1939-august 1941
  • Oberst Glaesche 1 august 1942-13 february 1943
  • Oberst Prawitt 14 february 1943- 15 april 1945
Below is a map of Colditz Castle created by a British Major stationed there.

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