That Penley became the site for the Polish hospital site was in the first place due to the American involvement in the Second World War. General Dwight D Eisenhower had to prepare American troops for the fortress. A Europe assault code named Bolero. This involved American troops living and being trained in Britain. The logistics required for 1,527000 men was enormous. The need for hospitals by the year 1943 was decided as 58 fixed American army hospitals. Penley was just one area chosen as a convenient place, near to Liverpool port and major road systems.
There were initially three hospitals built, Iscoyd Park, Penley hall and Llannerch Panna with other buildings built over the border that could be used as hospitals or living quarters if the need arose.
These three hospitals were known as 3, 4, and 11 after the units of military personnel that used them. Llannerch Panna hospital was closed and the remaining two hospitals absorbed the staff and patients. Iscoyed Park was closed in 1956, and the remaining patients and staff were absorbed in Penley.
How Polish people and military personnel came to Penley is a story of human misery, courage and determination. The Yalta conference agreement in 1945 saw the eastern section of Poland given to the control of Russia. The western area was to be governed by a communist regime that the soviets established in Warsaw. There was no forced repatriation but the needs of the displaced, political prisoner’s free prisoners of war together until the armed forces were huge.
The Polish resettlement corps (core) which only existed from 1947 to 1949 was to help with the integration of Polish people into British society and way of life. Many of these people had been prisoners of the soviets from 1939 and only released in 1942 to fight the Germans under the control of the British.
From American to polish use by the year 1947 Penley was known locally as little Poland. Prisoner’s and ex-servicemen with their wives and children together with doctors and nurses settled there with a population of 2,500.
The needs of any group of people who don’t speak the host countries language are, after health in need of language integration. The Flintshire education committees provided a nursery school on the camp site to help the youngest learn the language and then be able to attend the local school. The integration of adults into local hospitals as soon as this group was able to cope with the language in this way the numbers of patients was reduced and in 1956 the population had been so reduced in number just an ageing population who had been unable to speak English or cope with life outside this closed community of the hospital. The hospitals final closing date was March 2002 with the few staff and patients being transferred to Meadowslea hospital on Deeside.
As the Polish needs reduced and buildings became redundant the hospital site was sectioned off to provide factory units, the building of a Rainbow Centre and the start of a new housing estate. The years 1947 and 1963 records 26,000 patients being treated in Penley hospital the assimilation of these people appears to be complete.
The causes of the Second World War
The causes of the Second World War are to be found in the treaty of Versailles which was signed after the 1914-1918 First World War. This a war in which Adolf Hitler had fought in, he was awarded six medals including the Iron Cross first class. When Germany surrendered his personal bitterness over flowed, he blamed socialist politicians and the Jews, he also thought foreigners were ruining the culture of his country.
The German nation was treated harshly by the terms of the treaty and caused resentment to many Germans who protested they had not surrendered and wanted to continue the fight. The politicians and the Jews were blamed for this humiliating armistice which would not allow the Germans to join in the negotiations of the treaty. They were forced to sign and accept the conditions that would not allow them to rebuild a strong Germany. This treaty was the breeding ground for future trouble. There were several parts to the treaty
* The French wanted Germany weakened so that it would not be a threat to France. The British and Americans had doubts about this, but in the end agreed to punish Germany.
* Germany lost territory in Europe, and had all its colonies taken away. The League of Nations took over the Saar and Danzig.
* The size of Germany’s armed forces was strictly limited.
* Germany had to accept responsibility for the war (war guilt) and agree to pay reparations.
* The Rhineland was demilitarised.
* The Treaty of Best-Litovsk with Russia was made void, which enabled Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to become independent states. Poland was given access to the Baltic Sea through the Polish Corridor.
* The League of Nations was established.
The treaty left many Germans resentful at the treatment their country had received and can be seen as vengeful on Germany who would be bled dry to repay the cost of the war.
Anschiuss which was the union between Austria and Germany was forbidden this on its own caused deep resentment.
There were many small revolts and great economic difficulties and inflation influenced by the Wall Street crash in America. As a result of this the government started printing money which aggravated the situation and made inflation worse.
This was the background in which Hitler’s Nazi policy expanded and gained support. Hitler promised to give employment and to make Germany great again. To a hungry demoralised nation this was a strong rallying call and leadership which many German people who had lost everything responded to.
The control of the country by propaganda using the radio, cinema, newspapers and mass rallies all of which were under the control of Hitler was effective. Young people were encouraged to join the Nazi youth movements and religious views were re-directed to regard Hitler as a God like being.
The resentment that many still held towards the Treaty of Versailles was a festering wound. Poland was to be given land in West Russia that would split Germany but give Poland access to the sea and use of the free port of Danzig. These accesses did nothing to calm the German people or encourage them to respect the independence and freedom of Czechoslovakia and Poland.
Hitler was not German born, he was born in Austria. Austria and Germany were next door to each other, so much so that “Anschluss” the union between Germany and Austria was forbidden in the Versailles Treaty. This was to stop them uniting. These two German speaking countries would make a very strong Germany which is what 8 million German speaking people wanted, but were denied because of the Treaty of Versailles.
Many felt the injustice of the loss of the Sudetenland’s which were rich in copper and coal mines also farming. The cost of repayment for the war was crippling Germany but without the Sudetenland’s to help them it was a recipe for another war, not a lasting peace, or the rebuilding of a war torn country.
As Hitler took over power his influence was almost like that of a replacement to religion. Some people thought he could hypnotise audiences. In his book Mein Kampf he wrote out his grand plan for Germany. He wrote of Lebensraum which was living space for Germans. This was expansion of German lands for German people and the reality was to displace Russian and Polish people and repopulate their lands with Germans. Force would be used if these countries did not give up their lands. This Lebensraum was on his agenda during his imprisonment after the First World War, when he wrote his ideas for the future, in his book Mein Kampf his main changes were directed to the Versailles Treaty which he insisted must be cancelled and all German lands returned. He thought France must be destroyed, communism because of its strong link to Russia as the political system that replaced the Royal family rule there must also be destroyed.
The role of Fuehrer a single ruler and leader who would lead the pure Aryan race (the Germans) into becoming the master race was also part of his great plan for Germany. He saw Germans as a race that must not be weakened by interbreeding with inferior races. The Jewish people were seen as being the worst of the impure.
These plans of Hitler added to the ruined state of Germany after the First World War and the economic ruin irritated by the American Wall Street crash all combined to provide hope and support for Hitler, who was able to use this support towards a policy that could only lead to the Second World War.
Food and employment was seen by many as the lesser evil of what Germany was turning into which was a police state with almost a thought control policy. This helped make the cooperation of people in the final solution possible.
In 1936 Hitler began rearming Germany. He marched into the Rhineland; there was little reaction despite the fact that he was breaking the Versailles Treaty. While major powers attempted to negotiate with Germany, Hitler continued with his grand plan and in 1939 he marched into Poland, this action could not be ignored by France or Britain who had to declare war on a Country that was prepared, armed and ready for World War two.
The treatment of minority groups
Jews have been the focus of hate dislike and blame since the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Christians have blamed the Jews for the death of Christ forgetting Christ himself was a Jew.
Hate of Jews can be found in Shakespeare’s plays, the most famous being The Merchant of Venice with Shylock the Jew being shown as the villain. The followers of anti-Semitism based their opinions on the Jewish race that were called Semites not on their religious practice. This anti-Semitism was dominant in European politics and the National Socialism party incorporated anti-Semitic doctrines, it was therefore relatively easy to discourage non Jews. Slowly laws were introduced that separated the Jews from the “pure race”. Jewish homes and shops were attacked by Nazi thugs, Jews could not vote, Jews could not employ pure Germans, Jewish doctors could not treat pure Germans, little by little they were stripped of rights, respect and protection, they were being turned into evil non humans so that the extermination of these undesirables could be undertaken with little or no protests. Genocide would be the policy to the final solution.
Kristallnacht, night of the broken glass was an organized weekend of violence against Jewish property and synagogues. The picture Hitler painted of the Jews was an imagery of the lowest life form possible “a germ”, the people that welcome him are bound to be bled to death. Those Jews that could get away from Germany including Albert Einstein were the lucky ones.
All Jews had to wear a star of David sewn to their clothes indoctrination of children took place in schools where Jewish children were made to stand in front of the class and writing on the blackboard warned their once friends “beware the Jews”.
Jews were collected up and placed into Ghettos which were separated from non Jews; here they were starved with no heating, crammed into over crowded rooms until they died of starvation or disease.
The final solution, which was the extermination or genocide, was completed by forced removal to extermination or death camps. These men, women and children were transported by cattle trucks, worked as slave labour or gassed. All goods were confiscated by the Government.
Jews were not the only groups to be exterminated or made to do forced labour. Gypsies, Jehovah’s witnesses, homosexuals, the handicapped were all treated in the same way.
It is the number, over 6 million people, that is so devastating and unbelievable. Many of these were Polish and Jews. This was not warfare where there would be chance to fight back, this was removing ill and impure, old and young defenceless people, with the single aim of not just murdering them but also disposing of their bodies and using any by products that could be recycled to fuel the war in progress.
The final solution did not show any humanity at all, its coldness, merciless power was overpowering, ruthless and without pity.
The cold efficiency with which the Germans experimented to find the most cost effective method to achieve mass cheap killings is implausible. Zyklon B, hydrogen, cyanide gas, carbon monoxide, shooting were all evaluated almost as if to evaluate a way of gaining a productivity bonus of the loss of human life.
The services and facilities currently available in the village of Penley
The village of Penley today, is that of an uninspiring cluster of buildings on either side of the main road. The boundaries of the village are unclear and present to the non local motorist not a view of a village but small clusters of unattached buildings without character and identity.
There is an apparent original core with the more recent or modern parts being separated by the Industrial Unit Estate. As if built as an after thought the characterless architecturally viewed secondary school was built away from the other established buildings, it covers a large site and has no appeal to a visitor as it is just a block without style.
The Maelor School
The health centre is built on the school site but is featureless and to approach by car is an obstacle course presented by the school pupils and visitors going in and out of the schools main drive.
There are O.A.P. bungalows built very closely to the school near to its entrance which is subjected to the daily traffic noise and variety of school sounds.
The infant junior school of Penley Madras with its thatched roof on the approach into Penley from Wrexham is interesting, unusual and of historical interest and is part of the major past of the original Penley village, there are records of the school and its pupils from 1811 to be seen in the school log books that were kept by law.
The Madras School
The 16th Century Dymock Arms is the most impressionable building in the village. The coat of arms of the Dymocks is displayed outside with its ‘Pro Rege ET Ledg Dimic’ motto, it was originally called The Plough and has and is undergoing modernisation. While once the most central meeting place with rents being paid by the tenants it was also a working farm.
The Dymock Arms
There is a chapel which has been converted into private dwellings and many of the cottages for farm labours or small holdings have been bought for private homes and dramatically changed from their original pre renovation look.
The street lighting is poor and there is no open space for public meetings and recreation. There are no obviously placed litter bins or flower beds.
There is a small warehouse that has been converted to a children’s nursery for working mothers but its position on this drab industrial estate does nothing to inspiring confidence. The entrance to the industrial estate is extremely neglected and rundown with limited information on its purpose or use. While the residential housing is well balanced with council housing, original pre and Victorian properties a new modern estate with plans for future building there is no visual feeling of community. There are no shops therefore there is no use of the village by people who don’t live there.