In the dying days of WW2 the oddest battle of that war took place at a castle/prison in the little Austrian town of Itter.

 

The Castle had been converted at the start of the war to house French VIPs. The list included such celebrities as a tennis champion, 2 former Prime Ministers a former Commander-in-Chief, Trade Union Leaders, Charle de Gaulle’s sister and other noteworthy French personalities.

 

French VIPs

French VIPs

 

The SS in the area were stretched thin patrolling the surrounding countryside and villages. Seizing their opportunity the Prisoners took control of the prison and requested the help of the local Wehrmacht. Recognizing that the end of the war was near the local Wehrmacht commander, Major Gangl and ten of his men joined a few Austrian Resistance fighters and headed to their aid.

 

Almost immediately an American reconnaissance mission arrived, lead by a Capt. Lee, consisting of 14 soldiers and one Sherman Tank.

 

Castle Itter

Castle Itter

 

When word spread the SS returned in numbers to retake the Castle. What ensued was certainly the oddest battles of WW2 as Austrian Resistance, French Sports and Political Figures, and American and German soldiers fought side-by-side against a much larger SS force.

 

On the second day the Tennis Champion, Jean Borotra, leaped the Castle Walls, evaded the SS and reached the nearby American 142nd division. They arrived “Calvary” style to save the day and ended the siege.

 

Jean Borotra playing at Wimbledon

Jean Borotra playing at Wimbledon

 

Why Hollywood has never made a movie about this battle defies all rational logic…