Colditz (German pronunciation: [ˈkɔldɪts]) is a small town in the district of Leipzig, in Saxony, Germany. It is best known for Colditz Castle, the site of the Oflag IV-C POW camp for officers in World War II.
Town and castle
Coat of arms
|Coordinates: 51°07′45″N 12°48′25″E|
|• Mayor||Matthias Schmiedel (Ind.)|
|• Total||83.55 km2 (32.26 sq mi)|
|Elevation||156 m (512 ft)|
|• Density||100/km2 (260/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
|Vehicle registration||L, BNA, GHA, GRM, MTL, WUR|
Colditz is situated in the Leipzig Bay, southeast of the city of Leipzig. The town centre is located on the banks of Zwickau Mulde river, south of its confluence with the Freiberg Mulde. The municipality had a population of 8,752 in 2015.
The first record of a burgward on the Mulde river, called Cholidistcha, dates to the year 1046, when Emperor Henry III dedicated it to his consort Agnes of Poitou. The name is possibly of Slavic origin.
In 1083, Henry's son and successor Henry IV recommended that his follower Count Wiprecht of Groitzsch build a castle on the cliff above the river. From 1158, under the rule of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, the fortress became the residence of the noble House of Colditz, a dynasty of ministeriales in the Imperial Pleissnerland territory. In the 12th century, merchant houses were built around a marketplace below the castle and St. Nicholas' Church was built. In 1265, the Colditz citizens were granted town privileges by the ruler.
In 1243, the former Imperial estates were pledged to the Wettin margrave Henry III of Meissen. His grandson, Margrave Frederick I of Meissen occupied Colditz Castle in 1309. The whole lordship was finally incorporated into the Margravate of Meissen by 1404. Merged into the Electorate of Saxony from 1423, Colditz was held by Elector Ernest upon the 1485 Treaty of Leipzig.
In 1504, the local baker accidentally set Colditz on fire, and the city hall, church, castle and a large part of the town went up in flames. In 1506, reconstruction began and new buildings were raised around the rear castle courtyard. After the defeat of Elector John Frederick I of Saxony in the Schmalkaldic War of 1546–47, the town passed to his cousin Maurice. His descendants continued to rebuild Colditz Castle as a hunting lodge. From 1602 to 1622, it served as the residence of Dowager Electress Sophie, widow of Elector Christian I.
In the 17th century, the cloth and linen manufacture developed. In the 18th century, clay from the Colditz area started to be used in the Meissen porcelain factory that was established in 1710 by Elector Augustus the Strong. In 1804 a ceramics factory was established in Colditz by Thomsberger & Hermann.
In the Nazi era, Colditz Castle was temporarily used as a concentration camp by the SA and as a Reichsarbeitsdienst camp. During the Second World War, the town did not suffer any damage. In 1940, the town became the military district IV headquarters for personnel guarding an Oflag POW camp for officers, when Oflag IV-C was established in the castle. It became widely known after the war, for both its notable inmates (Prominente), such as Giles Romilly or George Lascelles, and several escape attempts.
On 14 April 1945, the U.S. Army entered the town and freed the prisoners. However, under agreements signed at the Yalta Conference, the Americans withdrew and were replaced by Soviet occupation forces late in June 1945. As a result, Colditz and the entire state of Saxony became part of East Germany. In 1958, the publicly owned porcelain factory was established. It produced a major part of the dishes used by Mitropa, as evident by the manufacturer's logo "cp". Both porcelain and chamotte industry went into decline after 1990.
Since German reunification in 1990, efforts have been made to increase visits by tourists. The castle was restored and has become a much visited museum. The great flood of August 2002 as well as the flood of 2013 caused some damage to the old town, but it has since been restored.
- Colditz Castle
- St. Nicholas Church – Originally built in the middle of the 12th century.
- Old Marketplace – Markt, the houses at #13 and #21 were built around 1600.
- Lower Market #3 – Untermarkt 3 – a Gothic house with steep gabled roof with date 1564.
- Johann David Köhler house – the grandfather of information science and a grandfather of library science was born here 16 January 1684.
The nearest airports are Leipzig-Altenburg Airport (26 km) and Leipzig/Halle Airport (52 km). Traffic on the section of the Glauchau-Großbothen railway line through Colditz ceased in 2000. Public transport is provided by buses, with services to Grimma, Leisnig, Hartha, Rochlitz, and Bad Lausick as well as to several villages in the vicinity.
The story of the wartime prisoners at Oflag IV-C was documented by Patrick Robert ("Pat") Reid in his books The Colditz Story and The Latter Days At Colditz, and the former was used as the basis for a 1955 film directed by Guy Hamilton. In the early 1970s the BBC broadcast a series, Colditz, created by Brian Degas and Gerard Glaister, with Reid as technical advisor. Beginning in 1973 a board game Escape from Colditz was marketed by Parker Brothers, followed by a computer game in 1991.
Sons and daughters of the city
- Johann David Köhler (1684–1755), historian and numismatic
- Paul Nitsche (1876–1948), psychiatrist and one of the men responsible for the medical murders during the Nazi era, executed for crimes against humanity
- Ernst Bergmann (1881–1945), professor of philosophy and pedagogy as well as a committed national socialist
- Werner Gruner (1904–1995), mechanical engineer and university lecturer
- Alfred Hoppe (1906–1985), painter and graphic artist
- Jürgen Schumann (1940–1977), pilot of the Lufthansa, victim of the Red Army Faction
- Clemens Pickel (born 1961), bishop of the diocese of Saratov in Russia
Other people with a relationship to the city
- "Bevölkerung des Freistaates Sachsen jeweils am Monatsende ausgewählter Berichtsmonate nach Gemeinden" (PDF). Statistisches Landesamt des Freistaates Sachsen (in German). July 2019.
- "Geschichte". Stadt Colditz. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
- "Das weisse Gold". Tourist-Information Colditz. 15 May 2012.
- Visiting Colditz Castle
- "Geschichte". Stadt Colditz. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
- "Liniennetz Landkreis Leipzig, Region Muldental" (PDF). Mitteldeutscher Verkehrsverbund. 11 December 2016. Map of bus services in the area
- Michael Booker, Collecting Colditz and Its Secrets, page 32.
- Eric J. Narveson, Prison Citadel, pp. 36–37.
- Pat Reid, Colditz: The Full Story, pp. 124, 259–263.
- Georg Martin Schädlich, Tales from Colditz Castle, pp. 4–6, 27, 61, 63, 91–101.
- Colditz in the Digital Historic Index of Places in Saxony (Digitales Historisches Ortsverzeichnis von Sachsen)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Colditz.|
- Official website (in German)
- "Exposé on Colditz Castle: Description of the Building". Stadt Colditz. Archived from the original on 21 September 2005.
- Visiting information for Colditz Castle
- German army records indicate the camp was in existence from September 1939 until April 1945.
- VirtualColditz.com — Videos and photos of Colditz Castle as it is today.