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The Last Battle – When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe

Itter Castle

In World War II, Itter Castle served as an outpost for Dachau concentration camp.
The German Nazis confiscated Itter Castle from 1943 – 1945 and used it to hold high decorated French politicians, generals and the secretary of state for war.

The 14 “prisoners of honour” were mainly members of the French government in exile, including Eduard Daladier and Paul Reynaud, both former heads of states in France, important trade union leaders, Charles de Gaulle’s sister or tennis star Jean Borotra.

On 5th May 1945, one of the most bizarre battles of WW II took place in Itter. GI’s (Captain John “Jack” Lee) and German soldiers (Major Sepp Gangl) joined forces to fight the SS troops and free the hostages kept at Itter castle.

Gangl lost his life during the skirmish.

In the history of World War II the rescue mission in Itter, which ended after a fierce gun fight, is only a tiny footnote. However, the mixed force of US Army, German Wehrmacht and Austrian resistance fighters to save the captives from execution is still fascinating today.

The American historian Stephen Harding has brought to life this nearly unbelievable mission in a fascinating, thrilling and well-researched novel. “The Last Battle: When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe“ has been published by Zsolnay Verlag and is a tale of unlikely allies, startling bravery, jittery suspense and desperate combat between implacable enemies.


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