Site Index

Why is Colditz so famous?
The current situation
Description of the Castle
Research Section
Getting to Colditz
About this Website
Recommended reading
British Declaration of War
Contact us

Help to support this website


Return to main Index

Some views inside the Castle buildings

On the guided tour, we were not really taken in to all that many rooms within the Castle buildings. However, I did manage to get a few interesting photos in those roome we were allowed in to.

Firstly, the Chapel. This room has been left virtually untouched since the War, so its decor is unchanged from then. The floor has, however, been taken up as part of the renovation program, so when you walk in, you are walking on stone flags rather than the wartime wooden floor.

Here is a view of the middle of the Chapel ceiling, looking south. The window recesses are those that overlook the prisoners' courtyard.

...and another view of the ceiling, this time looking approximately west-south-west:

Here is a view from the back of the Chapel, looking east to the altar end [Photo credit: Melvyn R. Lawes]:

The pile of stones just beneath the pulpit is where the 'ghost-hole' was, and indeed this still exists. 'Ghosts' was the term given to prisoners who were hidden inside the Castle; when the Germans found that the men were 'missing', they would search the Castle and [hopefully] not find them. These men were then presumed by the Germans to have escaped. Once the hue and cry had died down, the 'ghosts' could then rejoin normal camp life, and could be used as extra 'spare' bodies to fill in at roll-calls [Appells] for prisoners who really had escaped.

In 1941, the French began work on the famous Chapel Tunnel, which was one of the most ambitions engineering projects involving POWs in the Second World War. Although it was discovered by the Germans only a few days before it would have been completed, it still remains an incredible feat of human ingenuity in adverse circumstances. The original tunnel under the Chapel floor is no longer in existence, since the floor itself has been removed. However, other parts of the tunnel still exist, especially the 'downstream' section beyond the Chapel. Needless to say, this is off-limits to visitors, but you can still see where the tunnel goes down under the foundations, to the left of the altar area at the north-east corner of the Chapel:

In the old wine cellar, adjacent to the Chapel, is the original entrance to the Chapel tunnel:

Of course, the tunnel entrance was originally concealed by a door made from the original brickwork of the wall.

The Dutch also started a tunnel project; on one of the other pages of this site, there are pictures of the 'buttress' against the east face of the Castle - it was at the bottom of this buttress [which is in fact a hollow shaft] that they started their digging. Gaining access to the hollow shaft by means of a secret door in one of their urinals, they began the tunnel at the foot of the shaft where the floor level is already several feet below the ground level outside.

The buttress can be accessed from the inside of the Castle, within the Prominente cells area. This is a view down the inside of the shaft to the bottom:

...and here, such as it is, is the view up the shaft:

The metal rungs were, I think, installed by the Germans shortly after they discovered the tunnel route, probably to enable them to inspect the shaft more easily.

In the former Guardhouse, there is now a magnificent Colditz escape museum, with photos, fake uniforms, escape paraphernalia, and loads of other interesting things. One exhibit in the museum is this authentic wireless station, taken from its hiding place in the Castle attics and placed on show for everyone to enjoy.

And finally, we go once again out into the inner courtyard and look through the windows of the former prisoners' kitchen. This is now fitted out as a music room, and this is what it looks like:

The arched windows at the opposite side of the room overlook the outer Kommandantur yard. It was through this room [although not through those windows] that Capt. P. R. Reid made his famous escape in October, 1942.

Return to photos index page