Visit to Colditz

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Thanks Terry. Reading back, I see I make quite some typing errors. That's what you get when you don't have an editor, eh :)

The last part I want to do is the terrace. This is located on the north-west side (facing the town), outside of the castle. Coming from the south (main gate), it's behind the guards house and from the courtyard, behind the Kellerhaus. The French quarters were looking down on it. From the terrace there is a 12 meter drop to a grass field and from there it's still a significant drop to the street level. On the north side of the terrace, there is a little round tower. In ww2 there was a machine gun on top of this tower. During the day, there was a sentry on the terrace and two on the grass field below. There was a 2.5 meter high barbed wire fence on the edge of the grass. In the north-west corner of the grass, there was a structure called a "pagode", also containing a sentry. The sentry on the terrace was only there at daylight and was replaced by a sentry in the tower.

I would like to mention two escapes that happened here, starting with what is known as the "60 seconds escape". The notorious Mike Sinclair had noticed that there was a 60 seconds gap after the sentry in the pagode left (the one on the terrace was already gone) before the sentry on the tower arrived and the lights went on. His plan was that he and Jack Best would be flung out of a window (using polished tables) with a rope and descent down to the barbed wire on the grass within that 60 seconds. So they did. Unfortunately Best hit an alarm, causing a guard to come to the terrace. In the mean time, Sinclair was already working on the wire and cut through. The guard spotted the rope being hauled in and went back to report it. Best and Sinclair climbed down the second drop, where a woman spotted them. Without raising alarm, she went inside, another narrow escape. Best and Sinclair reached the Dutch border before being caught and send back. Sinclair was later killed in another attempt. Best lived to build the famous glider.

Here on the terrace. In the back, you can see the tower that contained the machine gun. On the right, the former French quarters.

Looking down onto the grass. In the corner you can see a mark where the pagode used to stand. You can also see the Mulde river in the back and on the other bank of the river the field where the glider was supposed to land if it had ever been used.

Another view from the guards house

The former French quarters from which the escape started, seen from the terrace and from the guards house

Another attempt was made by Flight officer Don Thom. The terrace was used for the prisoners in solitary confinement to get some fresh air. Don Thom was a very athletic guy. When coming out of the guards house, he suddenly jumped from the terrace, grabbing the bars in the angled windows seen here, letting loose and grabbing the next one, all the way to the grass. He had to give up when a bullet touched his scalp while he was trying to get over the barbed wire fence. Quite daring, and probably a little mad attempt.

Looking from the street level up to the terrace. My brother is 1m90, so you can guess the height.

Another view from the north towards the terrace.
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Well, that concludes my photo tour through Colditz. Thanks for the attention and encouragement. It was a great experience being there and I definitely would like to go back some day. Would be great if we could organise a trip with a couple of you, but I doubt if that would ever materialise.

Below some left-overs, just for the fun of it. The radio on the photo was only discovered in the 90'ies, more than 50 years after it had been concealed in one of the attics. It's now on display in the castle's museum.








An excellent thread Marcel, very enjoyable and informative, many thanks again for posting this. You've got me so interested, that I'm just about to lie back and re-read 'The Latter Days at Colditz', by Pat Reid.
It's a place that's fascinated me for the past 50 years or more, and I've always wanted to go there, so you never know, if we were able to organise a trip, it might actually happen !
You're welcome and thanks. I will think about your suggestion to make a booklet.
I had the same and was planning to go there for years. Now I finally managed and you saw the results. I also started in Egger's book again :)

Well maybe we can pull that off in the coming years. I really would enjoy that.
It's something to aim for Marcel. Probably not next year, as I'll have quite a few things happening then, but maybe the year after, in 2016 ?
Hopefully, I'll still be able to get around enough to allow me to do the trip - if not, I'll have wheels grafted onto my feet, with an electric motor !!
I've spent a couple of mesmerising hours reading through this thread Marcel and all I can think of to say is 'WOW' and thanks, thanks, thanks. The little snippets of history with the pictures is a great idea and certainly puts a great deal of perspective into the efforts of the escapees. Thoroughly enjoyable, again thanks.
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Yes, it's a map used by the prisoners and some-one made cartoons on it. There were more like those funny things in the museum. Diner menus for Christmas for instance. Only difficult to photograph, so I only took this as an example.

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