Book Review: The Colditz Story By PR Reid (23.12.2021)

Many of the Polish POWs Could Not Be Trusted!

Many will be surprised by the large contingent of Poles at Colditz. This is not because they were part of previous mass breakouts (as had been the British contingent of POWs) – but rather because they were political prisoners. To understand the situation at Colditz, a quick historical recap is needed regarding Polish-Nazi German history. Between 1917-1920 a right-wing Poland opposed the Socialism (following the dictates of the Catholic Church) of the 1917 Russian Revolution – with Lenin granting Poland ‘Independence’ in 1920. Italian fascism was popular in Poland between 1922 (and the rise of Mussolini) and 1930 and the election of an openly ‘fascist’ government in Poland (following the 1929 ‘Lateran Treaty’ which saw Mussolini granting the Vatican City ‘Independence’ and ‘Sovereignty’ from Italy). Hitler’s coming to power in 1933 is celebrated throughout Poland – with Joseph Goebbels receiving a state visit in early 1934. This led to a Concentration Camp being constructed and opened in late 1934 at Bereza in Eastern Poland. This was intended for use to corral and eradicate the Russian population in that area. In 1938, Polish troops triumphantly enter the Czech Republic alongside Nazi German troops! During 1939, Hitler betrayed his alliance with Poland and militarily annexed Western Poland (with East Poland returning to the Russia it had been separated from in the 1920 ‘Independence’ settlement). History today tends to omit all of this pre-1939 history regarding a ‘fascist’ Poland. This is why the author of this book talks of a number Polish prisoners held in Colditz as being ‘untrustworthy’ – as the relationship between the Poles and the Nazi Germans had been very good prior to 1939. Furthermore, this book also describes the escape attempt of ‘Peter Allan‘ of the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders – who broke-out of Colditz between late April and early May 1941, and had made it to Vienna by May 10th, 1941. In a desperate position and now out of money – he approached the US Consulate and requested help to get to Budapest in a then ‘neutral’ Hungary (a future ally of Nazi Germany whose ‘Catholic’ troops would go on to commit mass-murder in the USSR commencing from June 22nd, 1941 – around just six weeks later). The US Consulate said ‘NO’ to helping him on the grounds that the US was ‘neutral’ and did not want to offend Nazi Germany! Peter Allan may well have dodged a bullet as the Hungarians could have had him ‘shot’ simply to get rid of him as a problem interfering with their military preparations for the invasion of the the Soviet Union!

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