Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Tartan_Terrier, Aug 3, 2009.

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  1. I was driving through Germany at the weekend when I saw a sign for Colditz castle. Unfortunately I didn't have time to stop, but as a lifelong fan of escape stories, it's definitely on my to-do list.

    Has anyone been there? Is it still pretty much as it was then, or has it been 'modernised'/bombed to smithereens?

    I know that the guards had a museum of escape paraphenalia (forged papers, uniforms etc.) while it was in use as a POW camp. Is any of this still in existence?

  2. You can stay in the castle itself, in the very rooms, most of it has been modernised, but original areas can be found. Never been, but the old chaps has a couple of times.
  3. It's a lot smaller than i expected when i visited a few years back.Some of the escape apparatus made by the prisoners or smuggled into them through mail/parcels was amazing and is on view.
    Many of the escape attempts were successful and at times ingenious, however i could'nt shake the feeling that many of the guards were inept (unfit for the front,elderly etc) but that should take nothing away from the escapees however.
    The town itself is small but you will still find plenty of places to get smashed! :D
  4. Went there in Summer '90 just after the DDR had been opened up, bunch of us went on a weekend tour over the border (also went to Dresden, Karl Marx Stadt...) At the time Colditz Castle was still a functioning asylum and it was something of a challenge to get in!

    We got a quaintly amateur guided tour, mostly unchanged as far as we could tell. There was also a museum lower down the hill which a girl let us into and then left us to it. Good collection of memorabilia from the wartime period: fake uniforms, passes, weapons etc. Followed by probably the worst meal I've ever had in the only cafe in town.

    No doubt it's now a fully commercial "visitor experience" but at the time quite a thrill. We thought we'd be some of the first people to go there but the visitors' book looked like a copy of the BAOR ORBAT - someone from almost every unit appeared to have beaten us to it.
  5. Put simply - Go now.

    Yes the place has been given a makeover (it's now a youth hostel and a pretty damn impressive one at that!), however to physically follow the escape routes out the castle used by the likes of Airey Neave and Pat Reid is an experience not to be missed.

    Accomadation wise, try here:

    Colditz guru, speaks perfect English and you can walk to the "Schloss"

  6. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Yep I remember going around '92 and it was still in use as an asylum, lots of down's sufferers wandering around looking bemused. The place was in a hell of a mess, the structure looked positively leperous. But then as a 14 year old kid it was the dog's danglies.

    Really do need to go back to see it now its been done up. There was a channel 4 prog on recently about it - it was filmed during the restoration project, I think, very informative:
  7. Was there earlier this year. You can just pay to have a nose around yourself or get a guide to take you round. Go for the guide well worth it and they can take you into various parts of the building. As a attraction it is still under development really but you can still be taken to parts where they guys carved tunnels and other such stuff. Well worth a visit if your in the area.
  8. I read somewhere that fairly recently, the castle (roof?) was being repaired/renovated and the workmen found a concealed work area which was just as it had been left in 1945. The prisoners had set it up for making escape materials and it had remained undiscovered.
  9. I saw a programme on TV which showed some escape items such as clothing etc discovered under some floor boards. My Father went before it was converted to a hostel and he said it was quite good. I looked for Colditz discoveries on youtube, but came up with quite a few interesting clips. May be worth taking a look at a few of them to see if it stimulates your interest further.
  10. I would, if I could get any online video to work for more than a couple of seconds! :x
  11. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    ISTR that when the wall came down, they found the glider, still in the attic, which surprised a lot of people who thought the POWs had made up a myth about a glider. (They planned to escape by simply flying down the hill. The Septics turned up before they got the chance.) I remember one of the special interest magazines thereafter providing plans to build your own (I think balsa and fabric) model Colditz glider.

    The consensus was that it would have done the job.
  12. I vaguely remember a documentary were a repro glider was tested either on location or reproducing the location. It did in fact fly very well.
  13. I have recollection is here..sorry but it does go on a bit and on reflection there is not much about the visit which coincided with a football ho!

    The girl that showed us around said that the glider had been found and destroyed in order to deter somebody copying the idea. It would have flown was the word on the street!

    It was a lot smaller that I imagined and remaind very untouched. They had just found a new radio room and we were the first Brits to look in it , (apart from those in the war of course!!)bearing in mind that the wall had just come down.

    If you go in the Museaum and see the visitors book. 1992 ish 3RTR on the Piss again....childish I know but then I was a mere child!!!
  14. I remember the documentary and remember being surprised by how quickly the glider got airborne, given that it was winched up from a grass field. IIRC the actual launch method was to catapult it out through the wall/roof powered by a bath full of spoil. With the lift that the repro had, I don't think it would have a problem getting away from the castle.

    I also believe that Airfix (or similar) produced a balsa flying model back in the 70s.

    Stuff on the Colditz Glider
  15. At a risk of deviating from the sobriety of this thread, I cannot help recalling Spike Milligan in one of those typical game shows of the '70's, when asked to describe the name of a famous tv series, drew a pair of boobs with icicles attached - 'Cold Tits'.

    I'm sure that there was a tv feature which demonstrated how the glider was to be mounted on a type of raised mono- rail, ropes with weighted sand bags dropped, causing the glider to accellerate up the ramp to be launched. It did fly as I recall.