23 September 2012 | nickdewhurst
A fine series
This grim and claustrophobic series chronicles the lives of the allied prisoners in the supposedly escape-proof Colditz Castle designated Oflag IV-C during World War II. It describes events from the arrival of the first British prisoners after Dunkirk to join the existing Polish, French and Dutch prisoners, until the liberation of the castle by the Americans in 1945.
It records many attempts to escape, as well as the relationships formed between the various nationalities and their German captors. A grudging respect gradually develops between the two sides. Colditz is a Sonderlager (special camp), designed by the Nazis to hold high-risk and later Prominente (politically important prisoners).
Lieutenant Colonel John Preston (Jack Hedley) is the Senior British Officer (SBO). He is the very embodiment of British stiff upper lip. He gets along well with the Commandant, whom he respects but is adept at manipulating.
The Commandant (Bernard Hepton), known only by his forename Karl, is a moderate and honourable Oberst (Colonel), a Wehrmacht man, who adheres to the Geneva Convention to the best of his ability. He is anxious to be seen by the German authorities as running an orderly camp in order to prevent the SS and Gestapo from taking control. He relies on Colonel Preston to keep the British prisoners in check.
Captain Pat Grant (Edward Hardwicke) a young, hot-headed RAF officer who frequently finds himself in solitary confinement, is the first British escape officer in Colditz. His post is later taken by Flight Lieutenant Simon Carter (David McCallum), so that Pat Grant can himself attempt escape.
Hauptmann (Captain) Franz Ulmann (Hans Meyer) is the Security Officer at Colditz. His job is to prevent escapes. Like the Commandant, he is a Wehrmacht man who has no love for the SS. Because of his careful planning and sharp eyes and mind, he is able to avert many escape attempts as well as many attempts of the SS to take over the camp.
Major Horst Mohn (Anthony Valentine) is a very highly connected Nazi Party member. He constantly finds himself in conflict with the Commandant, and is frustrated by what he perceives as the treating of prisoners with 'kid gloves'. The prisoners loathe him. Unfortunately for them, he is ruthlessly intelligent and occasionally pulls off a devastating coup.
Almost all of the events depicted in the series have a basis in truth. While there is not a direct one-to-one relationship between the real and televised characters, most of the televised characters are loosely based on actual persons.
A major goof is that throughout the series captured British fliers are shown wearing full dress uniform, which of course they would not have worn on flying operations.