World War II Sites

Itter Castle (Schloss Itter)

Itter Castle (Schloss Itter)


Location: 20 km west of Kitzb├╝hel, Tyrol  Map


Itter Castle is a medieval castle situated 20 km west of Kitzb├╝hel, Tyrol region of Austria. In a strange twist of history Itter Castle became a site where German Wehrmacht fought shoulder to shoulder with the American GIs.


Description of Itter Castle

Itter Castle was first mentioned in the official documents that date back to 1240. However original fortress date back to the 10th century to guard an entrance to Brixental Valley. At the time it was a small central tower to keep an eye on the surrounding lands rather than prevent a massive invasion.


Itter Castle sits on top of the strategic mountain at an elevation of 666 metres (2,185 feet) above the sea level overlooking the Brixental Valley. It belonged to the bishops of Salzburg between 1312 and 1816 when it became part of Tyrol province of the Austrian Empire (later Austro- Hungarian Empire). Itter Castle was baught in 1884 by Sophie Menter, pianist, composer and student of famous composer Franz Liszt. Another famous Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tschaikovsky visited Itter Castle and ever personally orchestrated some of his compositions in 1892.


Itter Castle in the World War II

Itter Castle was used by the government of Nazi Germany as a prison for French political inmates as a subcamp of Dachau concentration camp. This included former Prime Ministers of France Edouard Daladier, Paul Reynaud, Generals Maurice Gamelin, Maxime Weygand, Colonel de La Rozque Andre Francois- Poncet, tennis champion Jean Borotra and many others.


Prisoners of Itter Castle was liberated by the American 103rd Infantry Division under leadership of General Anthony McAuliffe on May 5th, 1945. Immediately Allies took defence of the medieval citadel. Adolf Hitler committed suicide several days earlier, but German troops of 17th Waffen SS Panzer Grenadier Division refused to give up their arms. However several German soldiers of the  Wehrmacht  (German Army) refused to stay by Nazi ideology in the last day. They joined 142nd Infantry Regiment and 12th Armoured Division in a military engagement that became known as the Battle for Castle Itter. German Major Joseph "Sepp" Gangl who was in charge of the German soldiers was killed by a SS sniper at the conclusion of brief and unusual battle.


Itter Castle Today

After the War Itter Castle was largely abandoned and fell in disrepair. In 1950 it was acquired by Willi Woldrich who turned it into a luxury hotel. The hotel project went bankrupt so it was sold in 1985. It's been in private ownership since then so unfortunately it is closed to the public. Today it is owned by attorney Dr. Ernst Bosin.