Reinhold Eggers
Reinhold Eggers was the security officer at Oflag IV-C
Oflag IV-C
Oflag IV-C, often referred to as Colditz Castle because of its location, was one of the most famous German Army prisoner-of-war camps for officers in World War II; Oflag is a shortening of Offizierslager, meaning "officers camp"...

 from November 1940 until April 1945, promoted to chief of security in 1944. The Nova
NOVA (TV series)
Nova is a popular science television series from the U.S. produced by WGBH Boston. It can be seen on the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States, and in more than 100 other countries...

 television program "Nazi Prison Escape" was based on his books about Colditz
Colditz is a town in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, near Leipzig, located on the banks of the river Mulde. The town has a population of 5,188 ....

. He spent 10 years in Russian ordered imprisonment following the war, and was released in 1955.

Pre-World War II

In March 1913 Eggers was called up for military service and was, on his request, posted to the 2nd Battalion of marine infantry at Wilhelmshaven. His Battalion commander was the famed Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck
Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck
Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck was a general in the Imperial German Army and the commander of the German East Africa campaign. For four years, with a force that never exceeded about 14,000 , he held in check a much larger force of 300,000 British, Belgian, and Portuguese troops...

, who after six months personally promoted Eggers to Gefreiter. Eggers completed his training on 31 March 1914 and was promoted to the rank of Unter Offizier. After the outbreak of World War I he was ordered to join the First Regiment of Marine Infantry at Kiel. He was subsequently posted on the western front where he won the Iron Cross Second Class on May 8, 1915, the Iron Cross First Class and the Hesse Medal for bravery on the Somme in December 1915.

To cope with the Weimar Republic's hyperinflation
Inflation in the Weimar Republic
The hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic was a three year period of hyperinflation in Germany between June 1921 and July 1924.- Analysis :...

 in the '20s he had to sell his whole fortune which amounted to little more than 10,000 marks. Eggers and his wife bought an acre and a half of land at Reideburg. When conditions had somewhat stabilised he decided to start studying to regain his post as a teacher. In his years as a High School teacher in the 1930s he promoted international relations and visited England and France with his students. He failed to anticipate the untrustworthiness of his fellow teachers, however, and in 1933 he was denounced by six of his colleagues to the Nazis who accused him of being a left-winger and an internationalist. He was consequently only allowed to teach at elementary school. In 1934 he received his PhD from Halle University.

World War II & Colditz

In 1939 he was recalled to the army as a reserve lieutenant. Because of his language skills he was sent to Oflag IV-A
Oflag IV-A
Oflag IV-A was a World War II German POW camp for officers located in a 15th century castle in Hohnstein in Saxony.- Timeline :The camp was opened in 1 October 1939 to house Polish generals and their staffs from the German September 1939 offensive....

Hohnstein is a town in the Sächsische Schweiz-Osterzgebirge district, in the Free State of Saxony, Germany. It is situated in Saxon Switzerland, 12 km east of Pirna, and 28 km southeast of Dresden . It is dominated by its castle, standing on a sandstone rock....

 as a translator. The POWs at Hohnstein were mostly French officers including 28 generals and an additional seven Dutch and 27 Polish generals. Eggers felt his experiences at this camp were a very poor preparation for his time at Colditz. POWs and guards treated each other with respect and there were no real problems or friction.

On 22 November 1940, Eggers received his orders to report at Kriegsgefangenenoffizierssonderlager IV-C, Colditz. He started as LO3 (Lager offizier 3 or duty officer) and was faced with rebellious, anti-German POWs from Poland, France and the UK, who took every opportunity to harass their captors. Later these were joined by Belgian, Dutch and American officers.

Eggers tended to treat his opponents as difficult schoolboys and always tried to retain his calm and dignity even when provoked to the utmost. On one occasion his cap was stolen by a POW (to be measured and copied for an escape). He calmly waited for a guard to get a new one before he left the building. British and Dutch officers agreed that Eggers always treated them correctly. Lieutenant Damiaen J. van Doorninck, a former Dutch POW, wrote in his foreword for Eggers's book that:
This man was our opponent, but nevertheless he earned our respect by his correct attitude, self-control and total lack of rancour despite all the harassment we gave him.

After Colditz

After the liberation of Colditz Castle by the US army, Eggers retired from active service and returned to his post as a teacher. As he was in the Soviet Occupied Zone he was brought before the Regional Soviet Commander and was charged with supporting a fascist regime and thereby sentenced to ten years labour. He spent from December 1946 to January 1950 in Sachsenhausen
NKVD special camp Nr. 7
NKVD special camp Nr. 7 was a NKVD special camp that operated in Weesow until August 1945 and in Sachsenhausen from August 1945 until the spring of 1950. It was used by the Stalinist Soviet occupying forces to detain political prisoners....

 and then until December 1955 in Torgau
Torgau is a town on the banks of the Elbe in northwestern Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district Nordsachsen.Outside Germany, the town is most well known as the place where during the Second World War, United States Army forces coming from the west met with forces of the Soviet Union...


During the years after this Eggers was active in meeting with former Colditz inmates and writing his memoirs. He retired to live by Lake Constance
Lake Constance
Lake Constance is a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps, and consists of three bodies of water: the Obersee , the Untersee , and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Seerhein.The lake is situated in Germany, Switzerland and Austria near the Alps...

, where he died in 1974, aged 84.

External links

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