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The Colditz Myth: British and Commonwealth Prisoners of War in Nazi Germany [Paperback]

S. P. MacKenzie
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

21 Sep 2006
Though only one among hundreds of prison camps in which British servicemen were held between 1939 and 1945, Colditz enjoys unparalleled name recognition both in Britain and in other parts of the English-speaking world. Colditz remains a potent symbol of key virtues-including ingenuity and perseverance against apparently overwhelming odds-that form part of the popular mythology surrounding the British war effort in World War II. Colditz has played a major role in shaping perceptions of the P.O.W. experience in Nazi Germany, an experience in which escaping is assumed to be paramount and "Outwitting the Hun" a universal sport. The story of Colditz has been told in a variety of forms but in this book MacKenzie chronicles the development of the Colditz myth and puts what happened inside the castle in the context of British and Commonwealth POW life in Germany as a whole. Being a captive of the Third Reich-from the moment of surrender down to the day of liberation and repatriation -was more complicated and a good deal tougher than the popular myth would suggest. The physical and mental demands of survival far outweighed escaping activity in order of importance in most camps almost all of the time, and even in Colditz the reality was in some respects very different from the almost Boy's Own caricature that developed during the post-war decades. In The Colditz Myth MacKenzie seeks, for the first time, to place Colditz-both the camp and the legend- in a wider historical context.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (21 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199203075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199203079
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 14.9 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,157,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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This is a beautifully organised, painstakingly researched, and compellingly written volume Jeremy A. Crang, University of Edingburgh

About the Author

S. P. MacKenzie is the author of several previous works on Britain in the Second World War, including The Home Guard (O.U.P., 1995) and Politics and Military Morale (O.U.P., 1992), winner of the Templer Medal. He is currently Professor of History at the University of South Carolina.

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A valuable reference guide for WW2 POW research 15 Feb 2008
The book uses a contentious title to tempt the reader and one wonders whether the publishers/author would have been better avoiding the Colditz cliche to sell the book. I say this as the book stands as a fine piece of research in it's own right and does not need to alienate many of it's potential purchasers (i.e. Colditiz enthusiasts) by using the chosen title. The book is not designed to be a 'bedtime read' in the style that some readers of Colditz related books are used to but instead is a book that has been thoroughly researched and has been put together well. For those that want to go further into the story behind POWs in WW2 it is a very useful book to possess and I have used it on numerous occasions as a reference book. You will do well to let this piece of work occupy a position on your book shelf.
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