Rydal Penrhos Community
Declassified documents reveal Rydal pupils encountered Hitler Youth before WWII

Declassified documents reveal Rydal pupils encountered Hitler Youth before WWII

Secret documents have revealed that Hitler Youth members who met Rydal Penrhos pupils were suspected of secretly being Nazi spies.

The group of German visitors from Adolf Hitler’s destructive movement swapped black caps with Rydal School members in 1937, and MI5 documents, which have now been declassified and released by the National Archives, showed they were suspected of being infiltrators as they cycled their way across the country, receiving warm welcomes wherever they went.

At the time the Colwyn Bay and North Wales Weekly News reported one Rydal boy describing the visitors as “a jolly good crowd of chaps”.

It was also reported: “It is hoped a visit will be paid to Germany by Rydal boys next year.”

The papers also stated that the UK’s security service wanted constant reports of whenever German cyclists were spotted anywhere in the country due to their suspicions regarding “sinister motives” from the Hitler Youth.

A British Intelligence assessment, said: “It is a compulsory Nazi formation which has consciously sought to breed hate, treachery and cruelty into the mind and soul of every German child.

“It is, in the true sense of the word, ‘education for death’.”

Fortunately all Rydal pupils escaped unharmed from their encounters with the Hitler Youth, with the school making significant sacrifices during the Second World War.

The main campus at Rydal was occupied by the Ministry of Food, and the school was evacuated to Oakwood Park, a small country estate situated two miles west of Conwy until their return in 1946.

Penrhos College was also taken over by the Ministry of Food during WWII, with the Duke of Devonshire, anticipating that schoolgirls would make better tenants than soldiers, offered Chatsworth House for the use of the school.

The contents of the house were packed away in 11 days and 300 girls and their teachers moved in for a six-year stay.

The whole of the house was used, including the state rooms, which were turned into dormitories.

The house was not very comfortable for so many people, with a shortage of hot water, but there were compensations, such as skating on the Canal Pond. The girls grew vegetables in the garden as a contribution to the war effort.

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