Abergavenny


About 50 kilometres northeast of Cardiff and less than 10 kilometres from the border with England is a small town called Abergavenny. A picturesque little town with about 15,000 inhabitants and described as the gateway to Wales. Just to the northeast of the town is a small hospital called Maindiff Court Hospital, where Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess sat imprisoned between June 1942 and October 1945. Hess had all by himself flown to Scotland in May 1941 and parachuted just outside Glasgow. The purpose of the flight was to bring about a peace settlement with Britain. His request to meet first the Duke of Hamilton and later Winston Churchill himself did not materialize.

Britain was not at all interested in Hess’ peace efforts and he was instead imprisoned as a prisoner of war. First in the London Tower, then Mytchett Place southwest of London and in June 1942 he was transferred to Maindiff Court Hospital in Abergavenny, Wales. Abergavenny is a small town in the Welsh countryside, secluded and easy to guard. Although it was not a state secret that Hess was in Abergavenny, he was able to stay away from all publicity and attention. Although Hess was under constant surveillance, he had certain freedom and was able to make excursions both inside and outside the town, accompanied by guards. For the inhabitants of the city, Hess was no secret and they could from time to time catch a glimpse of him.

After the end of the war in May 1945, Hess was transferred in October 1945 to Nuremberg where he was tried at the main tribunal. He escaped the death penalty and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1946. He was taken with other convicted war criminals to Spandau prison in Berlin. Hess died in August 1987, having been the only remaining prisoner in Spandau for 21 years.

Current status: Preserved (2023).

Address: Ross Rd, Abergavenny NP7 8NF.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

After the end of the war in May 1945, Hess was transferred in October 1945 to Nuremberg where he was tried at the main tribunal. He escaped the death penalty and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1946. He was taken with other convicted war criminals to Spandau prison in Berlin. Hess died in August 1987, having been the only remaining prisoner in Spandau for 21 years.

Follow up in books: Manvell, Roger, Fraenkel, Heinrich: Hess (1973).