How Plans Become Prisons

I was watching a documentary on YouTube about Colditz castle last night. It was a castle in Germany that was used during WW2 as a prison for POWs who had tried to escape from other less secure  camps. It was a “bad boys’ camp.” I’ve written about it before. There were  British, French, Dutch, Belgian, and Polish POWs in it. And more or less as soon as they arrived there, they usually started planning to escape.

The documentary, which was actually shot at Colditz, recreated several of the escape attempts, some of which were highly elaborate, and took months of preparation, digging tunnels, making disguises, bribing guards.

Most of the plans went wrong. Something unforeseen would happen. A bribed guard would betray the escapers. A hidden crypt beneath a chapel would turn out not to exist. A locked door could not be opened.  A sewer would prove to lead nowehere.

But occasionally a plan would work, and the escaped prisoners would find themselves outside the castle walls, and start heading for Switzerland or some place. And occasionally they would make it there.

But while I found it unsurprising that British POWs frequently tried to escape, I wondered what the point of Polish or Dutch or Belgian or French POWs escaping might be, given their countries were already occupied, and were themselves prisons. Once they had made it to Belgium, wouldn’t they then need to escape from Belgium?

And what did the British POWs do once they had escaped to freedom? Did they live carefree, bohemian lives, doing what they liked. No, they all went back into the forces they’d been fighting in when they were captured, and began living planned and regimented lives as part of the war effort in wartime Britain. For the whole of Europe was effectively one huge prison during the war, Britain included. It only ceased to be a prison when the war ended.

So, did the escaped POWs start living free, bohemian lives – doing whatever they liked – when the war ended? Well, no, they didn’t do that either. They all got jobs in one industry or other, and started living planned lives within a civilian society.

In fact, many of them started making lots of new plans. If they were socialists or communists they’d dream of a planned society. Planning was all the rage after the end of WW2. There were planners everywhere, planning new towns, roads, railways. The European Union itself is one such highly elaborate post-war plan. In the Soviet Union, there were 5 Year Plans, of course.

Public Health is another example of planning. If the European planners have plans for the whole of Europe, Public Health makes plans for everybody living in Europe (and in fact the entire world). The Public Health planners are planning what everyone will eat and drink and smoke. And most likely they have plans for what everyone will read and watch and say and hear.

Planning of this sort precludes any sort of freedom. To the extent anyone sets out to plan other people’s lives, they are planning to remove their freedom. The more carefully planned any society is, the more closely it must resemble a prison. Which is why many people are planning to escape from the prison that is being built around them.

It is as if the prisoners who once planned to escape from Colditz ended up planning and constructing a new Colditz. Once they ceased to be prisoners, planning to escape, they simply became prison guards, planning to keep prisoners captive.

Can we ever stop planning? Can we ever live unplanned lives? As soon as we have had one carefully-planned holiday in the South of France, we start planning the next one in Greece. Is compulsive planning a psychological disorder?

For the planners, planning seems to be something that comes naturally. They seem to spend their entire lives making plans. And the plans always seem to get ever more and more elaborate and detailed. They seem to think that everything and everyone must be planned. They seem to think that anything that happens spontaneously – i.e. unplanned – is some sort of mistake. Perhaps even some sort of catastrophe.

The escape planners in Colditz castle where planning to break free. But none of them ever really broke free, even the ones that made it to Switzerland. They never broke free of planning. Once they’d stopped planning to escape, they started planning doing something else. And the more elaborate those plans were, and the more they reached into other people’s lives, the more they encroached on other people’s freedom.

It’ll never work. For the more elaborate any plan is, the more likely the plan is bound to go wrong. It might be said that the EU is bound to fail, because it is simply far too elaborate. The same applies to the equally (or even more) elaborate plans of Public Health.

And anyway many of the successful escapes from Colditz were unplanned, opportunistic escapes, as a door was left accidentally unlocked somewhere, or an unscheduled event took place.

And the most elaborate Colditz escape plan – which entailed building and launching a glider from its roof – never reached fruition. For in Colditz, escape planning had itself become  a highly elaborate process, with escapes being planned and scheduled many months ahead by a multi-national Escape Committee which in some ways prefigured the EU in Brussels. If the war had gone on much longer, there would have been no more escapes from Colditz, simply because the escape plans had all become so highly elaborate, and so carefully planned months or years in advance by the Escape Committee, that the prisoners had become their own most effective guards.

The plan was becoming the prison.

About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to How Plans Become Prisons

  1. Mark Jarratt, Colombo, Sri Lanka says:

    Yes so called ‘public health’ is creating an open prison. My high school, Holder High in Canberra was nicknamed Holditz.

    Don’t forget successful UK-Aust Colditz escapee SqnLdr Bill Fowler, MC – interesting tale recorded at

  2. Tony says:

    Oddly, or even bizarrely, on topic. Must be good news, although I’ve no idea what’ll come of it.
    “Smoking ban cannot be enforced in jails, UK supreme court rules
    Inmate loses attempt to enforce ban in prisons after court says crown premises are exempt”

    • Frank Davis says:

      That’s very good news. I’ve been writing to my MP about prison smoking bans.

      It may be even better news:

      “This judgment has far wider implications than simply the issue of smoking in prisons. It confirms that thousands of government properties, including, for example, courts and jobcentres, are not covered by the provisions of the Health Act prohibiting smoking in enclosed places. While many of these buildings even have signs saying it is against the law to smoke in them, these turn out to be incorrect.”

      • Jack Ketch says:

        As pleased as I am of course to see an Anti-smoker come up against the law, all it will mean in practice is that the Prison Warders Union and ASH will lobby individual Prisons for defacto bans (as well as lobbying government hard to change the law). All this judgement seems to mean is that Smoking on government property is merely a civil tort not a criminal offence. That a prisoner cannot use the courts to force a prison to police a ban effectively .

        • Roobeedoo2 says:

          What about council offices? Local government? Parks? Would they count do you think? And I don’t know much about civil torts…

          ‘tort lawsuits have a lower burden of proof such as preponderance of evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt.’

          …but we are the injured party here. The government have been acting illegally for 10 years, and we have loads of evidence on what a sham second-hand smoke is.

          ‘Legal injuries are not limited to physical injuries and may include emotional, economic, or reputational injuries as well as violations of privacy, property, or constitutional rights.

          And not only smokers but vaperers are the injured party too. Something to work together on…

          */drags… Just an idea, Clicky…*

        • Joe L. says:

          This is great news simply because it illustrates how these overly-zealous Antismokers have overstepped legal boundaries. It deals a significant blow to their authoritarian “victories” to date.

          The fact that it only applies to government properties, however, means that it unfortunately won’t have an impact on the daily lives of most smokers.

          Roobee: I’m no lawyer, but I would assume that this means council offices and local government offices cannot legally ban smoking.

          You raise a great question about parks. At least here in the U.S., parks are considered “public property” which is also a form of “government property.” I would like to know whether smoking bans at parks and beaches in the U.K. are now null and void.

          Do we have a lawyer in the house who can shed more light on this?

        • Rose says:

          The beach bans are one of anti-tobacco’s confidence tricks, the signs what ever they may imply are a request and compliance voluntary.

          “The seashore (which is synonymous with foreshore) is the area between the mean high water mark and the mean low water mark.
          Below the high water mark, i.e. the seashore and the seabed, generally belongs to the Crown.”

          I checked some while ago, one of lifes small pleasures is sitting on a rock and smoking a reflective cigarette whilst gazing out to sea.

    • Rose says:

      I’ve been waiting to read what that that Supreme Court ruling was, I’d almost given up.

    • beobrigitte says:

      A compulsory, immediate ban on smoking in prisons has been overturned by the court of appeal, allowing the Ministry of Justice to introduce its own voluntary, phased controls.

      Bans affecting three jails in Wales came into effect in January. The MoJ said it still intended to impose restrictions on tobacco but would have greater freedom in implementing its policy.

      The court of appeal ruling is a defeat for Paul Black, a sex offender who is an inmate at HMP Wymott in Lancashire. He has been serving an indeterminate sentence since 2009 and won a high court ruling last year in favour of a compulsory legal smoking ban on health grounds.
      I am surprised that The Guardian appears to side with this sex offender who serves an INDETERMINATE sentence! And I am more surprised the HEAD OF HUMAN RIGHTS at the LAW FIRM, too, sides with this criminal.
      Responding to the decision, Sean Humber, head of human rights at the law firm Leigh Day, which represented Black, said: “The court of appeal’s judgment is disappointing as it denies non-smoking prisoners and prison staff the same legal protection from the dangers posed by secondhand smoke as the rest of us.

      “It seems absurd to our client that, despite the Health Act specifically identifying controls on smoking in ‘prisons’, the act is to be interpreted as not applying to public sector prisons that make up the vast majority of prisons in England and Wales.

      “Given that our client’s case was successful in the high court, we are now discussing an appeal to the supreme court with our client.”
      Anti-smokers use EVERY means (?and criminals) to get what they want. Which side are the radical feminists on?

      I do hope for plenty more of this:

  3. Pingback: Hector’s Quote of the Day – Hector Drummond

  4. Rose says:

    Full circle?

    “In America, they call it ‘astroturfing’: the faking of grassroots support for a politician or a product whose popularity is on the slide.

    Now it emerges that a tactic invented by US pharmaceutical firms to promote drugs – and promptly adopted by the Republicans to shore up George Bush after 9/11 – was imported to Britain to help get Tony Blair re-elected.

    A documentary to be screened on Channel 4 tomorrow, filmed by an undercover journalist who got a job in Labour’s war room, reveals how party members and supporters were systematically used to create the impression of ‘real people’ passionately backing the government.”
    “Campaign materials seen by Dispatches stress that ‘more people trust the letters page than any other page of their local newspaper’ and that local organisers should target it.
    https: //

    Activists on newspaper threads praising Labour’s smoking ban and hoping objectors all die of a smoking-related disease, notably lung cancer. See Wall of Hate.

    Online intimidation of Tories brings call to curb Momentum

    “Conservative candidates were significantly more likely to be subjected to intimidation during the general election than those from Labour, according to a report that suggests Jeremy Corbyn should rein in Momentum.
    Theresa May’s independent ethics watchdog is due to reveal today that 68 per cent of the 118 Conservative candidates at the election in June who responded to a survey reported that they had experienced inappropriate or intimidatory behaviour, compared with 36 per cent of the 229 Labour candidates who replied.”

    Intimidation in Public Life: Committee publishes report
    Lord Bew, Chair of the Committee, said:

    “This level of vile and threatening behaviour, albeit by a minority of people, against those standing for public office is unacceptable in a healthy democracy. We cannot get to a point where people are put off standing, retreat from debate, and even fear for their lives as a result of their engagement in politics. This is not about protecting elites or stifling debate, it is about ensuring we have a vigorous democracy in which participants engage in a responsible way which recognises others’ rights to participate and to hold different points of view

    And they wonder where it came from.

    • Tony says:

      I’ve been thinking for a while that we should refer to the anti-smokers as “ASH and the astroturfs”.

      • Rose says:

        It’s not just in the UK.

        “When it comes to the smoking issue (and to a lesser extent the obesity issue), many people have expressed to us how amazed, baffled and even disgusted they are at how some of our fellow citizens have turned into arrogant, obnoxious, hateful individuals almost overnight.

        Indeed, as we read open letters to the various media, listen to open lines on the radio or television, follow newspaper and other forums on the internet, we can not help but notice how ugly some individuals become when they hide behind the veil of relative anonymity.”

        “We strongly suspected that this hostile attitude demonstrated toward individuals or associations with differing opinions were not the doings of ordinary citizens, however one must always give the benefit of doubt: perhaps public opinion had changed overnight when public smoking bans were adopted?

        Well, you can relax folks. All this time, it was not your next door neighbor, co-worker, friend or relative who was turning into an aggressive “Mr. Hyde” when protected by the cover of anonymity. We now have tangible proof that most of the people who are posting obnoxious and hateful material are simply following orders from the anti-tobacco industry:

        We share with you here below a few of the more disappointing passages that we have uncovered.”


        Click to access Smoke-free%20outdoor%20spaces%20advocacy%20-sept2010.pdf

    • Clicky says:

  5. wobbler2012 says:

    Another thing worth considering about the “public health” groups is that it’s a growing industry with year-on-year more of them springing up all wanting this that or the other banned, it’s going to reach a crescendo in a few years if it carry’s on at the rate it is. Remember there were hardly any of these moronic groups back in the 80’s and 90’s, now there are literally hundreds of the bastards.

  6. Jack Ketch says:

    “And I don’t know much about civil torts…” Roo
    Neither do I, I assume that the tort in question would be trespass. If you light up somewhere where the owner has banned smoking on his property and he (or his security guards) asks you to desist or leave and you don’t then technically you are committing trespass I THINK. What this ruling means is he, the owner, can’t call the police and have you arrested for the crime of smoking …I THINK.

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