Michael Alexander (British Army officer)
Captured in North Africa, as an SBS Commando he would have expected execution rather than imprisonment as the Germans regularly killed "saboteurs". When he informed Corporal Gurney, who had been captured with him, Gurney had a flash of inspiration and declared falsely, that Alexander was related to General Harold Alexander. After that pronouncement they were quickly visited by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who decided not to execute the two men, but instead transfer them to a German prison.
At this time Alexander was transferred to Colditz Castle to join the Prominente. There are no records of what happened to Gurney. At Colditz, Alexander and the other prominent figures like him were kept in somewhat better conditions than the other prisoners and had a few special privileges. However they were kept separate from the other prisoners and their obvious "hostage" status was shaky at best.
During the night of Thursday 12 April 1945, as American gunfire was heard in the distance, the prisoners were led away from Colditz by the SS guards on the direct orders of Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. The group made their way towards the mountains, from where it had been inferred that Hitler and his followers would make their last stand. Hitler ordered that the Prominente were all to be killed. Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger, a General of the Waffen-SS, personally broke this news to the prisoners, but then informed them that he would not carry out his order. Instead he loaded the Prominente aboard two trucks and provided them with an armed escort, who were under orders to fire on any who opposed them. The convoy headed towards the American lines and they were soon safe and in their hands.
Alexander was promoted Captain in 1946 and invalided out of the Army in 1951.
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