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Nazi Prison Escape

Franz Joseph and impersonator
"Franz Josef" (left) and his impersonator
Escaping Colditz
21: September 2, 1943

About midnight, the grandiosely moustachioed Sergeant-Major whom the prisoners had nicknamed Franz Josef appeared at the eastern gate with two sentries. Claiming the camp had had an air-raid distant warning, he relieved the two sentries on duty at the gate early, replacing them with his own. For reasons he could not explain later, the second relieved sentry asked for Franz Josef's pass. It seemed to be in order, but Franz Josef didn't know the password when asked. The sentry pressed his warning bell. A German corporal appeared and demanded Franz Josef's revolver. A scuffle apparently ensued, and the corporal shot Franz Josef. "Good God," cried one of the sentries. "You've shot our Sergeant-Major." But no: It was English Lieut. Michael Sinclair, who survived and went on to attempt two other escapes (see #22 and #24).

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  1. First escape
    April 12, 1941


  2. Straw mattresses
    May 8, 1941


  3. Locked cells
    Mid-May 1941


  4. Canteen tunnel
    May 1941


  5. German woman
    June 1941


  6. Air-raid shelter
    June 1941


  7. Hacksaw
    June 1941


  8. Over the wall
    July 2, 1941


  9. Air shaft
    July 28, 1941


  1. Lavatory
    July 31, 1941


  2. Manhole
    Late summer, 1941


  3. Dummies
    December 1941


  4. German officers
    December 1941


  5. Main gate
    January 6, 1942


  6. Town dump
    March 1942


  7. Wooden crate
    September 7, 1942


  8. Mussolini's office
    September 9, 1942


  9. Headquarters building
    October 15, 1942


  1. Willi the electrician
    December 1942


  2. "Maddest attempt"
    May 11, 1943


  3. Franz Josef
    September 2, 1943


  4. Cellar house
    January 19, 1944


  5. Rubbish heap
    May 2, 1944


  6. Greatest escaper
    September 25, 1944


  7. Glider
    April 1945



Escaping Colditz | The Jailor's Story | Great Escapes | The Colditz Glider
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