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More views outside the Castle - North and East

This is the North 'face' of the Castle; the Kurchenhaus [chapel house] and the Cellar house are joined at the cream-coloured 'seam' in this picture. Also visible at the bottom left of the photo is the north-east tower; a turret structure similar to the Round Tower. This is a bit of a mystery to me; it's not shown on any of the maps in the books but is easily visible on contemporary [i.e. wartime] German plans that can be examined in the museum in the Castle Dentist's rooms today. [Photo credit: Melvyn R. Lawes]

Another thing that I found surprising is that the North and East sides of the Castle are very different from how they are depicted on the maps in the books - not at all how I thought they'd look. The first instance of this is that of the old Clothes Store shed outside the office of Gephard, the German RSM. A successful escape was made from there in 1942 when Lt. 'Bill' Fowler made a home run. The Clothes Sttore shed was not at ground level as it appears on the maps. Instead, there is a flight of steps up 30 feet to the northern wall of the Castle, and a sort of terrace is up there. The Clothes Store is now gone but you can just see where it used to be, on that terrace. The Store was removed fairly recently; it had fallen into an advanced state of disrepair. In any case, here is a picture of the North wall of the Castle in close-up, the window of Gephard's office is just visible to the left of the window you can see easily. Actually the window is better seen on the picture above, of the north 'face' of the Castle. The escape was made by making a hole in the floor under his desk...  The rest of the photo shows the view along that northern terrace

Here's another view along the terrace to that northeast round turret:

Another thing not apparent from the maps is the tiered nature of the land to the east of the Castle. On the maps, it is shown simply as a flat roadway around the Castle, but it's really not like that at all. Take a look at this picture, taken by Melvyn Lawes, looking north from the east side of the Castle,

You can see that there is an upper 'ramp' that goes up to a couple of doors [also not shown on any of the maps - how come no prisoners tried to escape from them?], the middle, flatter ground gives access to a couple of doors 'under' the ramp [one is just visible], and the third track goes around to the north of the Castle, and formed part of the escape route of Bill Fowler, and was used in the brilliant 'Franz Josef' escape attempt by Lt. Mike Sinclair. To the right of the roadway is yet another track that winds its way down to the northern end of the Park in the valley to the east of the Castle. Also, you can see the north-eastern round turret as well.

Here is a view of the eastern side of the Castle. This is the 'Furstenhaus', which held the British and Dutch contingents during the early part of the War. You can see the 'ramp' leading up towards the north; if you look closely you can see that it 'doubles back' on itself to the south where the picket fence goes up to the low wall. That ramp to the south ends at the triangular lawn outside the Canteen, where the Canteen Tunnel exit was. [Photo credit: Melvyn R. Lawes]

Also visible on that last photo is a stone 'buttress' halfway along the wall. That buttress is hollow; it was accessed by the Dutch prisoner contingent, using a secret door in their urinal at the top of the buttress, and a tunnel was begun at the base of the shaft formed by the hollow buttress. Unfortunately, the tunnel was discovered well before it was completed, and the Germans also found a 'hide' of escape contraband at the top of the shaft too. To prevent further use of the shaft by the prisoners, the Germans put a small window in the side of the shaft [visible at the bottom of this picture]; you can also get into the shaft from inside the Castle at ground level, in the Prominente cells area. The next picture gives you a close-up of that buttress; it is interesting to note that there used to be a balustrade on the outside of the top of the buttress, and I suspect that this was removed as part of the 'renovations'.

You can also find out more about the Dutch Buttress Tunnel on my Research Page on that topic.

Turning now to the lawn on the terrace outside the Canteen, we see that it has been converted into a sort of cafe area for the Youth Hostel. This part of the building forms the rear of the Youth Hostel part of the Kommandantur buildings. The former location of the window in the Canteen now houses a door onto the lawn, which opens onto a new 'patio' area just outside the door. Under this patio is where the Canteen Tunnel exit was. Unfortunately, this is another example of the gradual destruction of sites around the Castle which are of significant historical interest.


I have been interested in Colditz Castle since my early teens. For me, one of the most enduring images of Colditz Castle from that era was the series of stills of the Castle within the title sequence of the BBC TV series 'Colditz', and no image more so than the one below:

Don't ask my why, I guess it's just the gaunt nature of that gable end along with its looming position above the east roadway; whatever, that picture just speaks 'Colditz' to me. So for me to get there and actually see it first hand was a really special experience. Here's the view of what it looks like today, alongside the TV picture again for direct comparison:


The archway to the left of the road leads through to the outer courtyard.

Finally for the East side of the Castle, here are two more pictures. The first shows the view north, up the eastern roadway, taken from the eastern end of the dry moat, from where the Married Quarters used to be [before they were demolished]. The second shows part of the Kommandantur from the same location.


Note also that in the left-most picture, at the bottom-right corner where those metal fences lie crooked under the trees, is where the path down to the Park begins.

To next page: Outside the Castle - Park and moat
To previous page: Outside the Castle - Northwest

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