Report 6th December 2011

Colditz

A large attendance in view of the treacherous icy pavements gathered to hear an excellent talk about the Colditz  POW camp by Terry Frazier, previously known to us for his National Trust talks.

Terry and his wife had been on an organised holiday, visiting German sites with wartime association.  Colditz was in the Eastern Bloc until 1989 and has been opened up for visitors with new discoveries and reconstructions relatively recently.  His slides enabled us to see Colditz  of the 1940s and the same scenes as they are today in full colour.

 

Colditz Castle with its high position and four gatehouses (before access is gained to the Prisoners’ Courtyard ) was chosen as a site for the most troublesome prisoners, all officers.  It was centrally placed north-west of Dresden to make escape to neutral Sweden or Switzerland difficult.  

Terry with great narrative skill and prodigious memory told us the stories of the 15 men (British, French and Dutch ) who escaped and the ingenious methods which they used.  Famous names like Pat Reid and Airey Neave were featured but it is interesting that only 7% of officer prisoners tried to escape, 25% were willing to assist but the remaining68% only wanted a quiet life and sometimes felt sorry for the German guards.

 

Roy Smith, a former prison governor himself, gave the vote of thanks.  

Terry promised to return in October with “The Dambusters and the Great Escape”.

                                                              John Taylor    

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