The SS left the castle early on May 4, 1945. The Schloss Itter, as it was known in German, now belonged to the prisoners. They broke into one of the rooms serving as the armory and retrieved rifles, pistols, and submachine guns. Despite the assurances of the former commandant – a sadistic Captain named Sebastian Wimmer – that he would do all in his power to see that they remained unharmed from the throngs of retreating German forces, none took any chances.
Even the arrival of the young SS officer who told them he had Wimmer’s orders to look after them brought little comfort. In the past weeks, they had seen several SS officers and their families stay at the castle before moving on. Each time it unnerved them. Such men were often bloodthirsty, and they killed at the drop of a hat. One German had even committed suicide just prior to Wimmer’s fleeing. Until all the Germans had left, inmates felt execution was always just an utterance away.
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