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Colditz Castle (also known as Oflag IV-C)

Posted by on September 23, 2018

If you happen to make it out to Leipzig then I recommend going out to Colditz Castle which is in the town of Colditz. It’s about an hour’s drive from Leipzig to Colditz and there are generally very few tourists who go out to this direction.

Tip: You have to rent a car to go out to Colditz Castle as it’s not a well-known location for tourists such as Berlin or Munich. There’s no known public transportation to and from Leipzig which is the closest big city to this location. All the more to go see Leipzig and see JS Bach’s house, RB Leipzig, and then his former POW camp/castle.

Colditz Casle prisoner of war castle prison world war ii 2 base german nazi base

If you were an Allied military officer who tried to escape a POW camp many times during World War II, then this would be your welcoming view to your new home, Colditz Castle.

Colditz dorf village town country Saxony street strasse

Walking through the town of Colditz… very quiet and more serene than the more popular tourist hot spots of Europe. But if you were a prisoner of war back in World War II, then this would have been a bad place to be in when escaping the prison because the townsfolk would have likely reported you.

Colditz castle was converted back in the 1930s during World War II into a POW camp (also known as Oflag IV-C) for Allied officers. It was selected due to being on a top of hill overseeing a small creek (which would vary in water levels during certain times of the seasons) which was supposed to deter the prisoners from escaping as if it really scared them (the Germans moved prisoners, who kept trying to escape other prisons and prison camps, to Oflag IV-C). Instead, it probably made the prisoners bolder in trying to escape.

One idea that the prisoners had was creating a glider in order to escape the castle! Such a glider was created but never used as the prisoners were rescued before they got to use it. And there was also the question whether the glider was for real or not but that was settled year later when a photograph of it surfaced which quelled the debate. So what happened to the glider then? People believe that a few years after World War II, the locals went to the castle looking for anything to burn because it was an unusually cold winter and one of the things they found was the glider which was probably cut up in pieces and burned for heat.

A few years back, a documentary team took up the task of using the approximately the same type of materials the prisoners had access to in order to re-create the glider and then later tested its flight capability. On its test flight, parts of the plane were broken upon impact but the glider did in fact glide in the air and would have safely transported 2 prisoners onto the grass plain across the river. The remnants of the glide are now stored within the castle which is now a museum and a hostel (yes, you can stay there if you wish!).

colditz schloss deutschland prison guards nazi prisoners allied troops officers soldiers airmen

It would have been intimidating coming into this castle which was the POW’s new home. But after figuring out what’s what and where’s where, the prisoners hatched plans to escape.

glider replica world war ii escaparse de carcel prison world war 2 prisoner of war guards prisoneros

This is a glider replica but shows how it would have been made behind a hidden wall. They never used the glider but the theory was actually put to the test, many years later on.

launch pad glider escape prison pow castle schloss

Even though work was being done on Colditz Castle, this would have been the glider’s launching spot – right off of that roof. The documentary crew also used this spot to launch the glider.

creek arroyo stream green field campo cesped verde from pow camp

Here’s a great view of Colditz but the target area for the glider was that green patch across the creek. The documentary team launched the glider and did in fact get across the creek and onto the green field. So the glider would have actually worked!

It’s an interesting place that I recommend going to in order to see this place of a converted castle into a POW castle/camp during World War II.