Giles Romilly, a nephew of Winston Churchill. He was the first of the so-called Prominente to arrive at Colditz. These were men who were related to senior Allied figures and therefore were held as bargaining chips to be used at the appropriate time. The security that followed these men was immense as there would be serious consequences for any guards found to be negligent in the event of their escape. The Prominente were allowed to live in comparative luxury, but a guard was assigned to stand outside each of their rooms and keep a very close eye on their every movement, often through a peep-hole in their door. Romilly used his position to his advantage and caused trouble by issuing enraged complaints at every conceivable object annoyance. Amongst other things, he took offence to the noise created by the boots of his guard as he strolled up and down outside of his door, preventing him from sleeping. Following a visit from the Red Cross, it was arranged that a red carpet be placed outside his door to dull the sound.

 

Over the heads of every member of the Prominente loomed the uncertainty of how their status as hostages might develop. During the night on Thursday 12th April 1945, as American gunfire was heard in the distance, the prisoners were, in spite of threats made to the Kommandant by Colonel Willie Tod, the Senior British Officer, led away from Colditz by the SS guards on the direct orders of Hitler and Himmler. The group made their way towards the mountains and the Berchtesgaden, from where it had been much touted that Hitler and his close followers would make their last stand, however when all was lost and Hitler ordered that the Prominente be executed, the SS General, Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger, refused to obey and put them aboard lorries bound for the American lines. Romilly, however, was not amongst them as he had already escaped.

 

The group stayed for a time at Oflag VIIID, a castle at Tittmoning. The camp was home to some Dutch officers, and two of these abseiled down the castle walls with Romilly, whilst the remainder of the Prominente hid in the castle in the hope of conveying the impression that they had all escaped, however after four days they were discovered. Romilly, in spite of the 3,000 men that were searching for him, succeeded in reaching the Allied lines.