Why is Colditz so famous?
The current situation
Description of the Castle
Getting to Colditz
About this Website
British Declaration of War
Help to support this website
Return to main Index
More views outside the Castle - Park and Moat
Across the southern side of the Castle is a dry moat; there are three 'terraced' levels leading up from the moat to the south face of the Kommandantur. Currently, the moat is used as a car-park, and for workmens' access to the tower crane which was in the moat when I was there, as well as for the storage of building materials for the renovation. In any case, at the east end of the moat, there used to be a building which housed the German guards' married quarters. This building has been demolished as I have mentioned elsewhere.
The moat was the scene of two successful British escapes [resulting in six home-runs; five British and one Dutch]: Airey Neave's route took him down the moat and past the Married Quarters; Pat Reid's route involved descending the moat terraces after getting out of the Kommandantur courtyard.
This latter escape involved climbing up out of a narrow air vent/chimney from a cellar under the Kommandantur; the vent opens on to the tops of the moat terraces on the south side of the Kommandantur. This is what that air vent looks like today:
And it's not very big either - we're talking twenty-four inches across by about eight inches high - quite a squeeze!! This is the hole climbed through during the escape of the 'Stockport Six' in early April 2007. One of the escapers was stuck for some minutes; apparently the local authorities were not amused :)
Once out of the hole at the top of the moat, turning around, we see the view down onto the moat itself. Each terrace is between about seven and nine feet high, depending on where in the moat we're looking. The vertical distance to the bottom of the moat in this picture is about 25 feet over the three moat terraces.
This is a view of the moat from the eastern end...
...as you can see, it has loads of renovation-related builders' things in there. At the time of my visit, the tower crane was at the western end of the moat. Here's another view of the moat, taken from its western end:
You can clearly see the height of the terraces, and I should point out that there is also a flight of steps running up the terraces; it is not at all difficult to get up or down the terraces in the moat because of this. During Reid's escape, of course, it would have been completely dark here and they may not have known about or noticed the steps. Certainly they are not mentioned in the books although they were there during the War - perusal of some of the older photos taken at that time show them clearly. You can just see the line of the steps to the left of those concrete blocks on the crane's foot; they can also be seen in the aerial view on the first page of this section on the outside of the Castle.
Here's another view of the western end of the moat, taken from the gate adjacent to the outer Castle gatehouse:
And now, to the Park. The prisoners were occasionally allowed out of the Castle - sometimes at regular intervals, sometimes not - for a couple of hours' exercise in the Park, a pleasant clearing in open woodland in the valley to the East of the Castle. The Park was also known as the Tiergarten [deer park] because in medieval times it housed the game animals for the Castle table. The street in the Town that runs across the southern end of the Castle grounds is still called the Tiergartenstrasse or 'Deer Park Street'. There's also a very nice pub there....   Anyway, the prisoners were marched out of the inner courtyard, across the Kommandantur courtyard and through the tunnel leading out of that courtyard to the east. From there, they went down a fairly steep, winding path which began approximately at the eastern end of the moat. The building visible in this picture, often known as the 'Terraced House', is also visible in the last moat picture above. There is a small, grey, now bricked-up, door visible at the base of this building from which the first home-run from Colditz was begun, by France's Lt. Alain LeRay.
At the bottom of the path, there is a bridge over the stream which runs between the park and the eastern side of the Castle:
Crossing the bridge and turning to the right, we find this mainly overgrown manhole cover.
This manhole cover was the site of at least four Dutch escapes [gone-aways] and, as far as I know, has only recently been rediscovered.
And finally for the Park, here is a view of the Castle buildings peeping over the trees to the west of the Park:
To previous page: Outside the Castle - North and East
Return to photos index page