Keys to Colditz Castle

Contributed by Somme Heritage Centre

The keys to Colditz Castle, the supposedly escape-proof prison for Allied PoWs in WW2

Although it was considered a high security prison, it boasted one of the highest records of successful escape attempts.The keys were part of the security that the Germans believed made Colditz Castle the best place to keep prisoners of war who were considered the greatest escape risks, usually because they had already succeeded and been recaptured. When the American army took Colditz Castle in 1945, two of the prisoners, Corran Purdon and Dick Morgan, asked to rejoin the fighting because they said they wanted to finish the war with rifles in their hands. They fought with the American forces for a while but had to go back to Colditz to be repatriated. It was then that Dick Morgan slipped away and came back with the keys safely stowed in his pocket. When Dick died his widow sent the keys to his friend and fellow PoW Corran Purdon, a reminder of the escape-proof prison. He donated the keys to Royal Ulster Rifles Museum in Belfast. They are currently on loan to the Somme Heritage Centre.

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April 16, 1945. Liberation of prisoners

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