Some schemes when discovered, potentially jeopardised ongoing projects and in one case indirectly assisted it. Corporal Georg Schaedich known to the French as La Fouine (the Ferret) and to British POWs as ‘Dixon Hawke’ discovered Lieutenants officers Cazaumayou and Paille at the bottom of a ten foot hole they had dug below the clock tower to the north west corner of the yard. A piece of bed frame had been used for the excavations and the men had fixed up a hoist to haul the rubble up inside the tower ready for disposal in the attic.
|Corporal Georg Schaedich - |
The noise had given them away, resulting in Hauptmann Lange, the German security officer bricking up doors at all levels which led to the tower. This would have significant consequences later, as the Frenchmen merely constructed a secret entrance to the tower under the roof of the castle and were then able to descend inside unobserved and recommence their tunnel work.
|Hauptmann Lange - |
Conversely, Two Polish Air Force Lieutenants, observer Waclaw Gassowski and pilot Waclaw Gorecki got into the canteen one evening and were caught trying to cut through the bars outside the window. They had taken few precautions against discovery as there were no stooges in operation (lookouts to warn of approach or distract the sentry) and no signalling system to warn in advance of the approach of a guard.
A more far reaching problem was that the escape attempt crossed over an existing project by the British who were digging a tunnel under a manhole cover in the canteen. The result was that a large floodlight was installed outside, lighting up the whole lawn and castle windows on that side of the building. The British and Polish senior officers attempted to coordinate their efforts better and similar arrangements were made with the French, although that system of liaison did encounter some communication problems.
Lieutenant Bednarski managed to reach the Resistance in Cracow in Poland where it was alleged the Gestapo picked him up. He was returned to Colditz a year later and was subsequently accused by the Poles there of being a spy and a traitor. A court martial was conducted by them and a Pole who was at the trial, later reported that the guilty Bednarski was to be thrown out of a high window to simulate an accident. Information from the trial suggested that Bednarski had been working for the Germans for some time before he escaped and reached
It is surprising that if Bednarski was not in the Polish Army he did not arouse suspicion before, as the Poles had been the first prisoners at Colditz and even if he was a later arrival, any cover story would need to have been well researched and rehearsed. These men lived in very close proximity to each other and had huge amounts of time on their hands. (His name does not appear on the historical list of POWs for Murnau.)
|Murnau Oflag V11 - encyklopedia.pwn.pl|
Alternatively, if Bednarski was going to escape, what purpose would that serve for the Germans unless they hoped he would lead them either alone or with Lieutenant Just to any underground network or escape lines. It seems strange that the Gestapo returned him to Colditz after such a considerable amount of time had elapsed. The Polish POWs were bound to view this with intense suspicion. The Gestapo may have decided that his value was over and dumped any potential problem back on to the camp Kommandant.
|Colonel Mieczyslaw Mozdyniewicz (2nd right) - Commons Wikimedia|
Sources and Additional Reading
Colditz The Full Story – Major P R Reid MBE MC
Colditz The German Viewpoint - Reinhold Eggers
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