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The Colditz Hostages : Hitler's VIP pawns

The Colditz Hostages : Hitler's VIP pawns

G Romilly & M Alexander
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
Books on Colditz abound, most of them based on the experiences of the British POWs, along with a few books from the German perspective. Pen and Sword have revived a fascinating tale written by two of the prominente in the immediate post war years.

The prominente were prisoners selected by the Germans as having political or family value as bargaining chips. Their numbers included Earl Haig, a US ambassador’s son, a member of Churchill’s family, some assorted Earls and General Bor-Kmorowski . In the early stages of the war they were ”something that might be useful one day”, but by 1945 their fate was looking a bit darker.

The authors set out their captivity in generally alternating order in a chronological sequence. Their capture and gradual filtering through the POW system makes excellent reading. Prior to graduating to Sonderlager Colditz some of them passed through Eichstatt, another camp where escaping was a popular pastime. By coincidence a relative of the reviewer spent much of the war there!

The book is well written and a number of well known officers such as Colonel Tod and Mike Sinclair are mentioned. Eggers, the German Security Officer (see Colditz The German Story, Robert Hale & Co) is dismissed as “a called-up schoolmaster with manners of the treacly kind”.

After the prominente were removed from Colditz there is some interesting narrative on the implosion of the Third Reich and their travels until liberation.

Pen & Sword have done their usual good production of 246 pages with some nice illustrations and a couple of maps. Annoyingly there is no index. The book is priced at £25.00 and well worth purchasing.

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