Collecting Colditz and its Secrets

By Michael Booker
Grub Street, ©2005
ISBN 978-190494308-2
Hardbound, 192 Pages
Available from Casemate for $39.95

Reviewed by Chris Banyai-Riepl

Sometimes a book comes along that catches you by surprise. Collecting Colditz is just such a book. On initial glance, it seems like just a garden variety title about memorabilia, but closer examination reveals just how fascinating this particular collection is. The author began collecting materials from Colditz forty years ago, and over the years his fascination with the subject has led to him uncovering an interesting story from World War Two, that of the prisoner of war camp. In doing his research, Booker corrects some of the misconceptions about the camp, noting that it was neither a horrible place nor a pleasure camp.

The book is broken up into sections on specific events and specific people. Some of the latter include Douglas Bader, Mike Sinclair, and Pat Reid, and their stories make for some great reading. For me, though, it is some of the other sections that are more interesting, such as the Colditz Glider, which was built in secret in the loft, yet never flown. These anecdotes speak volumes of the resourcefulness of the prisoners, as they had to hide not only their glider, but their presence in the empty loft as well.

This book is resplendent with such tales, and that makes it a tough book to put down once you start reading. This snapshot within the big picture of the Second World War would make a great addition to any WW2 reference library. My thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy.

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