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Kees Koenen

Kees Koenen was born in 1964 in ’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. He has two academic degrees in mathematics after studies in Eindhoven, Netherlands, and Oxford. He has been working in the oil and gas industry for more than thirty years, with sub-areas as safety, design, assessment, audits, quality systems, external safety, explosions.

As a child he became interested in the Colditz story when he saw the TV series in the early 1970s. It resulted in a now fifty-year study of the castle, the POW camp, its inhabitants and every other detail related to Colditz. He is a member of The Colditz Society. He collected about seventy books and hundreds of photos related to Colditz.

When in 2013 he visited the grave in France of Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Littledale, one of the few officers who managed to escape from Colditz, along with the much better known Pat Reid, he decided to write a book about him. The story of the almost forgotten Littledale is closely related to Colditz's most famous prisoner: Mike Sinclair. During the study of Littledale and Sinclair, an unknown history emerged.

The book entitled The Betrayal of Colditz continues where the recently published Colditz - Prisoners of the Castle by Ben Macintyre from 2022 leaves off. The book continues where all other books about Colditz make a pause. Colditz is the most infamous prisoner of war camp of the Second World War, made famous by Pat Reid's books, immortalized in dozens of other books, a TV series, various films and documentaries and hundreds of historical photos. The book, film and series show a mythical picture of the lives of the prisoners of war, giving the impression that they are busy 24 hours a day trying to escape. The book, The Colditz Myth by S.P. Mackenzie, is one of the few that tells another, more realistic story.

In addition to the superficial impression left by books and images, there is little biographical material available about the officers in Colditz. This is especially true for Mike Sinclair, the only officer shot during a fatal escape attempt from the camp. In almost every book this unfortunate officer plays a major part and is placed on a pedestal as an ultimate hero. He is the most persistent soldier who attempts to escape, the theme for which Colditz has become famous. Yet his life story has never been written.

The fate of Ronald Littledale is linked like no other to that of Mike Sinclair. Writing the story of the almost forgotten Major Littledale not only breaks down the myth of Colditz by a personal account, but also sheds light on the mystery of the lack of a biography of Lieutenant Mike Sinclair, the most famous prisoner of Colditz.

Kees Koenen
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