Sherwood Smith's Reviews > The Colditz Myth: British and Commonwealth Prisoners of War in Nazi Germany

The Colditz Myth by S.P. Mackenzie
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Jul 29, 2010

bookshelves: history-ww-ii
Read from July 29 to August 01, 2010

More than fifty years after WW II, the Colditz Myth is surprisingly alive. Mackenzie seems to agree with my theory that a lot of that has to do with Reid's tone in his book about his experiences as an escape artist at Colditz Castle, where the "hard case" officers were imprisoned. Reid's Colditz Story reads like the ultimate posh boarding school war game story, only set in a real and grim war. Reid has a lot in common with David Stirling's persona when he went about setting up his private army of mavericks.

Reading Reid against German commandant Eggers' later-published side of the Colditz story is revealing in a lot of ways, and Mackenzie addresses a lot of the issues that I find most interesting about the spoken and hidden rules of prisoner and imprisoned, cultural boundaries, and psychological effects of the experience.

Mackenzie sets the two accounts against a wider examination of the treatment of POWs in WW II, and how people have reconsidered the facts down the decades since, marked every 20 years or so by movies that tend to reflect the times they were made as much as the original facts. Overall one begins to comprehend how Colditz became a cathexis for much of what fascinates us in war stories.
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