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What was the small house/building at the North of the Castle?

At the northern side of the Castle, during the War, was a small house/outbuilding. All that remains of this enigmatic building nowadays is just the concrete footings, or perhaps this is just a concrete overlay of the original area. The house is clearly visible on the German wartime map:

Here is a wonderfully atmospheric wartime photo taken from the north-western corner of the orchard garden at the western side of the Castle. The view looks eastward and the northern face of the castle can be seen, as well as the round tower at the corner of the western terrace. The building in question is just visible through the trees.

Here now is another floodlit wartime photo taken from the top of the pagoda machine gun tower at the northwestern corner of the orchard.

The next picture was taken in March 2008, from the top of the stairs visible in the picture above. The remaining base of the building can still be seen [arrow].

This research team is wondering what this building was used for.
  • The map clearly shows the building. However, although it must have been clearly visible to the prisoners [it would be visible from the rooms above the Chapel], it does not appear on most maps; can one therefore assume it did not play a significant part in the make-up of the camp?

  • We know from the accounts about the escape from Gephard's office [see the photo page of this area of the Castle] that the building attached to the Castle on the northern terrace was used for storage. Perhaps this separate building too was used for storage (clothing/bedding etc)? The Germans did have a lot of storage space, though; the Kommandantur itself had plenty of available workshops and storage rooms. The building is located in a relatively unsecured area so was unlikely to be used for high level storage, e.g. arms.

  • There was also plenty of room elsewhere to garrison troops. Again, there has never been any mention of it being used as a guard house - and indeed the original guard house was only a short stroll away.

  • Finally, as there was an excess of rooms was it abandoned? We would think this unlikely, as this would have meant the prisoners would have exploited the fact.

So. What was it used for? Enigmatic indeed!!

Update. Since this page was first written, there has been much discussion on this topic amongst members of the Colditz Society. It seems that the building was called the 'Desinfektionsgebaude' or 'Disinfection Building'. In addition, there is some evidence that the building was demolished after these photos were taken, but at some time before the end of the War, probably some time before October 1943 [since that was when Hautpmann Lange, who took the photograph, left the Castle staff]. Quite what they disinfected there is uncertain; perhaps it was used for the cleaning and disinfection of hospital equipment when the Castle was used as a hospital, perhaps it was for disinfection of prisoners' belongings. This latter is unlikely as there were delousing and disinfection facilities in the inner courtyard during the War. However, there is evidence that the Delousing shed in the inner courtyard was not erected all that early in the War; while the camp was a Transit Camp in October 1939. Perhaps the Desinfektionsgebaude was used for disinfection of prisoners' effects after all? Of course we may never know, but the research continues....

Further Update, June 2008. I have been informed by Andy Russell, of both the Colditz Appreciation Society and the Colditz Society, that he asked Frau Renate Lippmann of the Castle guides what the building was for, and "...she said it was used to pack clothes into packing cases then these were sent to the town to be washed". Aha! So there we are, then. That would also fit with the 'disinfection' ideas too.

If any readers of this page have any other information, please contact me - all contributions used on this site will of course be fully credited to their authors.

Credits: Concept, discussion and research by Tony Cutcliffe, Melvyn Lawes and Gavin Worrell. Contributions from Colditz Society members Dave Windle, 'Tricky Dicky', Wayne, Andy Russell and Miles. Modern photo by Tony Cutcliffe, map from After the Battle by Winston G. Ramsey. Wartime photos probably taken by Hautpmann Hans Lange, the German camp photographer; these are in the public domain.

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