39. An Alpine Fortress With High Value Prisoners
Itter Castle, nestled in the Austrian Alps, has existed as a fortress since at least the thirteenth century. It was rebuilt in the sixteenth century, was renovated in the nineteenth century, and became a hotel in the early twentieth century. After the Nazis annexed Austria to the Third Reich, they rented the castle from its owner. They eventually confiscated it outright during the war in 1943, and transformed it into a special SS facility for prisoners with potential value as hostages.
In its new role as a prison, the castle was administered by Dachau concentration camp, which lay about 90 miles away. It held high value French captives such as former prime ministers Paul Reynaud and Edouard Daladier. The inmates also included former French Army commanders in chief Maurice Gamelin and Maxime Weygand; Charles de Gaulle’s elder sister Marie-Agnes Cailliau; and tennis star Jean Borotra. The castle also housed common inmates from Dachau, to perform maintenance and other menial work.