Life under Nazi rule: the occupation of the Channel Islands. https://www.visitguernsey.com/heritage75. Years before WWII took hold, the famous French writer Victor Hugo – writer of Les Misérables – called Guernsey home for 15 years in the 1800s and the Island is well-known for its Neolithic remains, ancient dolmens, tales of folklore, cultural traditions, Roman influences, Napoleonic fortifications and so much more. Subscribe to latest events View Event Website Events you might be interested in. Before the war, the island had been massively reliant on importing and exporting with the mainland. She brought with her food and medical supplies. Many of the men who had served in the First World War, and who were perhaps too old to fight in the Second World War, found it difficult to accept the presence of the Germans. The Channel Islands, the oldest possession of Britain’s monarchy, were the only British territory occupied by Germany. Towards the end of the war, the question wasn’t whether the allies would win, but whether they would die of starvation before the island could be liberated. German planes bombed the harbour in Guernsey’s capital parish of St Peter Port after mistaking a group of tomato lorries for a convoy of troop carriers and, after 48 hours, German troops began to land and their flag was raised. From 1st April right through until the end of October, 75+ heritage themed events will take place in Guernsey, Herm, Sark, Alderney and Lihou. When the tide is right, you can walk over and explore the abundance of flora and fauna, a Benedictine Priory from the 12th century and a crystal clear Venus Pool. About The Channel Islands; Latest information on COVID-19 and travel to Jersey & Guernsey ... German Occupation - Fortifications and Military History Share . A. There was one woman, for example, who was working for a pro-Nazi Swiss chef. A. I interviewed hundreds of residents for my book, Hitler’s British Isles, and something that came up repeatedly was this idea that “there were Nazis, and there were Germans”. The Germans stationed axsubstantial garrison on the Island. This was exemplified in an instance relatively early on, in 1940, when two local Guernsey lads who had signed up to the British Army returned to the island on a reconnaissance mission. From themed tours and guided walks to exhibitions, family fun days and exclusive site openings, visitors will be able to delve into a wide range of experiences. VE Day. Thanks! Everything you ever wanted to know about... Nazi wives: the women beside Hess, Goebbels, Göring and Himmler. 30 June 1940 : Occupation began 15 Sept 1942 : Deportation order 27 Dec 1944 : Red cross ship Vega arrives with food 9 May 1945 : Liberation The occupation of the Channel Islands by the Germans may have been a small episode in the Second World War, but it … The papers may lay to rest accusations that some Channel … Alderney celebrates ‘Homecoming Day’ on December 15th as an alternative to Guernsey’s Liberation Day celebrations in May, as the Island required a huge amount of clearing and it operated as a communal farm while order was restored. However please join the islanders for their virtual celebrations: more details at Actors Glen Powell and Lily James in ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ (2018), which portrayals life in the Channel Islands following the German occupation of WW2. Finally, in 1945, an announcement was given by Prime Minister Winston Churchill: Herm Island, which is only 20 minutes away from Guernsey by ferry, was initially passed by the Germans but was later claimed by the Third Reich on July 20th 1940. He considered the Channel Islands to be his ‘stepping stone’ to the British Isles. In Guernsey, three women who were deported ended up at Auschwitz and were killed there. Although considered to be hidden gems, the islands were not able to evade German occupation during World War II and subsequently the number of fortifications that still stand today and the history that surrounds them is both fascinating and astonishing. It was extremely difficult for everyone. 5621230. Guernsey is the largest of five, and its sister Islands of Herm, Sark, Alderney and Lihou are a short boat trip (or even walk) away. The women who entered into relationships with Germans were called ‘jerrybags’, and there was this assumption that they were doing it for selfish reasons – to get more food or luxuries like lipstick and silk stockings from Paris. Although islanders were given work by the Germans, many refused it despite the benefits that were promised to them. What was life like for women and children in Nazi Germany? Those who were discovered to be having these illicit relationships had their heads shaved and were ‘tarred and feathered’ – had liquid tar and feathers poured over them. What was Christmas like in Britain during the Second World War? People were always pushing the boundaries of what they could get away with. The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to fall under Nazi Occupation during World War Two.. After the German offensive raced through France, the British government concluded in June 1940 that the islands were indefensible; island officials were ordered to demilitarise and some citizens were evacuated to mainland Britain. But Colin Smith argues that we should not jump to conclusions-the Islands were unlike any other part of occ One could say it is a miracle that the remains of the Priory were not completely destroyed as you can still go and see them to this very day. It gives islanders a chance to rejoice in their freedom and reflect on those who had to endure everything that the Occupation brought with it. A. On May 8th 1945, the Allies celebrated the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler’s Reich, formally recognising the end of the Second World War in Europe…. As a popular place for walking through naturally beautiful surroundings, it is hard to imagine that it was once part of such turbulent times. The official website for BBC History Magazine, BBC History Revealed and BBC World Histories Magazine, Save over 50% on a BBC History Magazine or BBC History Revealed gift subscription, Occupied by the Germans between 1940 and 1945, the Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to have been seized by the Nazi regime. This timeline of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands is an edited and abridged version of that contained in Paul Sanders’ 2005 book The British Channel Islands under German Occupation 1940-1945. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Guernsey was officially occupied from 30th June 1940 when it was left undefended after the British Government decided to de-militarise it. Here, Rachel Dinning talks to Duncan Barrett, author of Hitler's British Isles, to find out what it was like to live under German rule. This has ensured the long-term preservation and security of the collection whilst being stored in the correct environmental conditions. Tens of thousands of islanders had been evacuated to Britain just before the Germans arrived on the Channel Islands in 1940, and when they returned there was a difficult period of reintegration. Personalities: Major Friedrich Knackfuss Feldkommandant of the Islands from 1941-1944 standing with an Islander on a promenade in Guernsey On this day, 30 th June 1940, the German occupation of the Channel Islands (Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Herm and Sark) began. Little did they know this would be for almost five years. There was a feeling among the islanders who had stayed that the ones who had left had been cowardly, while the ones who had left felt that they had experienced the Blitz and been properly “at war” while their friends and relatives at home had been “making friends” with German soldiers. The soldiers did hand themselves in, but the Germans went back on their promise and they were sentenced to death. ‘Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight. Around half of the Islands’ population including four fifths of school children were evacuated to the UK. While there were a few real Nazis – individuals committed to national socialism and Hitler – the majority of Germans on the island were just ordinary soldiers who wanted to go back to their homes and families. The German heard the animals grunting and became very angry with the man. Others remained undiscovered or in hiding. Most Jews had already evacuated from the islands before the Germans arrived. To this day, the locals are very aware that this idea exists about them. At the same time, for five years the residents lived an existence that wasn’t completely free. I interviewed a man who was involved with tarring at least one of these women, and he told me that the ‘jerrybags’ were considered just as much ‘the enemy’ as the Germans. Although they were granted a last-minute reprieve on Christmas Eve 1940, by this point one of the men’s fathers had already committed suicide. You can unsubscribe at any time. The Jerrybags who slept with German soldiers are a reminder that the bulldog breed collaborated too. Speaking your mind could get you into a lot of trouble. The islands had a very high number of German soldiers compared to the civilian population, one soldier for every 2-3 civilians, which reduced options; this linked to the severe penalties imposed by the occupiers meant that only forms of non-lethal resistance were used by the population. German armed forces ruled the Channel Islands from June 1940 until May 1945. Please enter your number below. the occupation and liberation of the channel islands 1940-1945 HU 25932. From changing the clocks to reflect the time in Germany to restricting activities such a fishing, club meetings and the singing of patriotic songs, islanders had to abide by these newly imposed laws otherwise they would have been arrested, or even faced the risk of being deported. The handling of the situation led to a lot of people losing trust in the Germans. But when you have tens of thousands of young men and women in one place, it’s inevitable what will happen. A. This page tells the story of the two Woolworth stores during the period of German occupation. Read 29 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Sark itself is still a unique time capsule as one of the few remaining places in the world where cars are banned and exploring on foot, by bike or on a horse drawn carriage is the best way to get around. A sense of freedom, and the reminder of how truly resilient the islanders of Guernsey were, is what underpins the celebratory atmosphere that runs through all of the festivities. I was quite shocked to hear how angry people can get about this subject even all these years later. The Islands of Guernsey are what’s known as an ‘archipelago’ – a collection of islands located on the English Channel between England and France. People didn’t always get off so lightly. Some of them were actively looking for opportunities to form friendly relationships with the locals and to prove that they weren’t the kind of monsters that they had been painted as by Allied propaganda. Dame Sybil Hathaway, Seigneur of Sark during the Occupation. The locals would feel terribly sorry for them, and would offer them food and shelter. Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister at the time, was hesitant to make this decision but the Islands offered no strategic benefit. You have successfully linked your account! He greeted her one morning with the usual “Heil Hitler” and she replied: “To hell with Hitler!” She ended up going to prison, but she became a local hero of sorts. The smallest of the Islands of Guernsey, called Lihou, is situated just off the west coast of Guernsey and accessed by a causeway at low tide for about two weeks every month. The SS Vega, a vessel run by the Red Cross was a lifeline and arrived with a lifesaving cargo in December 1944. A. Guernsey and the other Channel Islands were occupied by German Forces during the Second World War. Obviously not every Guernsey resident felt the same way. There is a lot of high feeling and controversy surrounding this period in the Islands’ history. From their perspective, they had “beaten them once”, and now they were back again – this time right on their doorstep. All five Islands quickly found themselves under German rule, each serving their own purpose for what became known as ‘Hitler’s Island Madness’ as the Channel Islands became the most fortified place in the world. There were people who did denounce their neighbours or became paid informants working directly for the Germans, but it would be unfair to call the vast majority ‘collaborators’. In comparison, resistance in German-occupied France was possible because the Maquis [rural guerrilla bands of resistance fighters] were able to disappear into the mountainous terrain from which they took their name. Alderney was the only Channel Island to be evacuated during WWII as the island became part of Hitler's Atlantic Wall. Hitler saw it as an opportunity for a bit of PR – he wanted to prove that the Germans could run an occupation without the abuses of power and violence that were happening elsewhere. I interviewed one woman who was a small girl at the time of the occupation. It was extremely tough, but compared to the German occupation in France or Holland it was a much ‘softer’ occupation. It was a meal you could make if you only had potatoes, with potato peelings on top. It is also a day of remembrance for those who bravely fought and lost their lives to serve an Island that thousands are proud to call home. German invasion After the loss of the Battle of France, the UK deemed the Channel Islands to be of little strategic importance. From the Publisher We produce a large number of books about the German Occupation of the Channel Islands and this has been our best seller by far. With Saskia Reeves, Owen Teale, Julia Ford, Clare Holman. She had an autograph book that contained some friendly notes from the Germans soldiers she got to know. Occupied between 1940 and 1945, the islands were the only part of the British Isles the Nazi regime seized. Guernsey fell to the Germans without a shot being fired on 30 June 1940, with Jersey falling the following day on 1 July 1940. A. The smallest of the four main Channel Islands, Sark is located some 80 miles from the south coast of England and only 24 miles from the north coast of France. The Jersey garison alone exceeded 11,500 men. During the German Occupation of WW2, almost half of Guernsey residents were evacuated, but many families chose to stay. He is also Patron of The Jersey Film Society. was deposited at the Jersey Archive in September 2001. Having a relationship with someone from the ‘other side’ was considered much worse than some of the wrongdoings that – to me – seemed more deserving of anger: collaboration, dodgy trading with the Germans, etc. The Islands were the only British territory Hitler ever conquered, and locals had most of their lands, belongings, food and freedom taken away. Explore unique wartime history and see the traces the five-year-long occupation left behind, from concrete defences, bunkers and fortifications to a network of underground tunnels. Today, it is a tranquil paradise with waters often mistaken for the likes of the Caribbean. Duncan Barrett is the author of Hitler’s British Isles, which is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in June 2018. 68th Liberation Day 2013, The Guernsey Event Company. The whole book can be found under Resources on the Occupation Memorial website. Gallery of photos showing the German occupation of the Channel Islands by the Nazis in World War II Guernsey Island Confirmation World War Two Ww2 Berry Potato Envelope Germany England On 4 July 1940, Ruth Berry, a Guernsey mother who had been evacuated to England, obtained confirmation that her island had been occupied by Germany. I think it helped that the people in charge of the occupation were these German aristocrats who, if anything, were quite suspicious of Hitler and his fascist ideology. Head over to www.visitguernsey.com/heritage75 to browse through the Heritage75 programme and join the Islands of Guernsey in 2020 for a year that is not to be missed! The five-year occupation came to an end on 9 May 1945 - Liberation Day, an event still celebrated in Jersey with an annual Bank Holiday. When the slave workers escaped, locals would often let them hide in their homes. A large number of these people were Russians who were treated particularly badly by the Nazis, who viewed them as “Untermenschen” (sub-human). Guernsey’s history is a fascinating one that spans centuries. During the German occupation of the Channel Islands, there was limited resistance. WWII fortifications across the Islands of Guernsey were constructed by captured men forced into work. The dwindling numbers of islanders present then and alive today have, without exception, vivid memories of the final events of their occupation by German troops. A. The German occupation of the Channel Islands still haunts Britain's image of itself at war. For 75 years, Liberation Day has and will continue to be celebrated on 9th May, while Sark Island celebrates theirs on the 10th. Islands in Danger: Story of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands, 1940-45 by Alan Seaton-Wood: 1945: Jersey Occupied: The German Armed Forces in Jersey 1940-1945 by Michael Ginns: 1945: Jersey Under the Jackboot by R. C. F. Maugham: 1945: The Model Occupation: The Channel Islands Under German Rule 1940-1945 by Madeleine Bunting: 1945 In 1940, during the darkest days of World War Two, the evacuation of women, children, the elderly and infirm was ordered from Gibraltar, in order to fortify the Rock…. On 8th May 1945, Churchill announced the end of the war in Europe, and the Islands of Guernsey were freed on the following day. On October 3rd 1942, 12 British Commandos of the Small Scale Raiding Force (SSRF) launched ‘Operation BASALT’ raiding Sark Island to capture prisoners and offensive reconnaissance. Against The Tide book. The mounting pressure on food and ration supplies resulted in the early release of prisoners, but the situation was becoming critical. Find out in our ‘Everything you need to know about Nazi Germany’ podcast. As 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Islands of Guernsey, the festivities will be kept alive for even longer as a special recognition of this. Throughout Europe there had been a massive campaign, partly encouraged by the BBC, to encourage people to chalk up V-signs on buildings. Although there were instances where the people in authority made questionable decisions to keep the peace, you have to remember that everyone was in a very difficult situation and it’s easy to judge actions in hindsight. A. Some were sent to prisons and camps, while others resisted with acts of protest and defiance between 1940 and 1945. When the Germans became aware that there were British soldiers on the island, they set an ultimatum: the soldiers were to hand themselves in by a certain date and they would be sent to a prisoner of war camp to live out the remainder of the war in safety. In this section you will find: Guernsey Occupied - this is a past exhibition about the occupation in general. Some ended up in prison or even lost their lives for going against German authority. Channel Islands Liberated- the End of German Occupation, Channel Islands, 1945 D24595 Receiving a message from the Germans agreeing to a meeting at midnight on 8–9 May, the ships returned to the same south west coast location off Guernsey and a German … It took a long time for these two sides of society to make peace with those different experiences. German soldiers standing at an intersection in Jersey during the WWII occupation of the Channel Islands. They were in a precarious position: if they were discovered and classified as spies, then they could be shot. The Channel Islands, two British territories, fell under German occupation in 1940 during WWII. Visit historical sites or join a expert-led tour to cast light on this dark side of Jersey’s Even so, over twenty civilians died for resistance against the occupiers. The Islands politically took on a policy of “passive cooperation.” Fearing a German monopolization of oil, Britain interned German civilians living in Persia in 1941. There seems to be a problem, please try again. Rachel Dinning is Digital Editorial Assistant at HistoryExtra, Save over 50% on a gift subscription to their favourite history magazine. The Jersey Channel Islands Occupation Society's collection of Occupation ephemera, photographs, etc. They couldn’t speak freely, they were living under curfew and they were often struggling for food. The Germans issued a range of strict regulations. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. I would also argue that the so-called ‘model occupation’ became harder to sustain as tensions grew and trust began to break down. How Thomas Becket’s feud with Henry II led to murder, 2020 round-up: we choose our top HistoryExtra podcasts of the year, The great misconceptions of the Second World War, Killing Hitler’s hangman: the dramatic story of Reinhard Heydrich’s assassination, Laurence Rees on the perpetrators of the Holocaust: “What they told us was, at the time, they felt it was the right thing to do”. Alderney’s experience of the Occupation was very different to the other Islands, but at just 3 miles long by 1 ½ miles wide, it packs a great deal of history into its modern day visitor offerings with natural trails, military walks, Victorian forts, bunker open days and other annual events and tours. 9th May is a Bank Holiday on the Islands of Guernsey, and Guernsey’s capital town of St Peter Port comes alive with thousands of people attending parades, firework displays, live music, entertainment and activities for everyone to enjoy. The Nazi occupation of part of the British Isles had begun. It is a time to think about how relieved and happy everyone must have felt. 69th Liberation Day 2014, The Guernsey Event Company, *Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, the events below have been put on hold. This happened in Guernsey. It was used to practise landing from barges in preparation for the invasion of England, under the guise of shooting a propaganda film called ‘The Invasion of the Isle of Wight’. They managed to do a certain amount of trading with France – the Germans actually allowed that – but after D-Day [the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944], they were cut off and began to starve. German troops landed on Guernsey on June 30, 1940, on Jersey July 1, on Sark July 3 and on Alderney July 4. Rumours had spread through the islands about the ship’s arrival, and emotions were running high as islanders shouted with gratitude and cried with relief once it entered the harbour. Location: Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark) Outcome: Operation Green Arrow, the German occupation of the Channel Islands, was achieved swiftly and with few casualties. I spoke to a woman whose husband got himself into a rather difficult situation when a German came to his farm to ask how many “swines” he had. Depending on the area, there could be as many as one to two Germans per islander. The pig-owner had to pretend that he hadn’t understood the original question – and luckily, he got away with it. Some children would play pranks on German soldiers, while others were excited by the arrival of alien-like army trucks. Author of The British Channel Islands Under German Occupation 1940-45 A fifth of all the defence works in the so-called Atlantic Wall - a defensive line stretching from the Baltic to the Spanish Frontier - were built on the Channel Islands. During the Second World War, a quiet channel island community is thrown into turmoil by the invasion forces of Nazi Germany. “I don’t have any swines,” he told the German – although he did, in fact, have two pigs hidden in a secret pig sty. There was humanitarian resistance too. I feel a degree of sympathy for the islanders because they were really abandoned by Britain during the war. Q. Listen on the podcast: Military historian Peter Caddick-Adams responds to listener queries and popular search enquiries about D-Day. Jack Higgins has lived in Jersey for over 30 years, in which time he has taken a special interest in the German Occupation of the Channel Islands. The Islands of Guernsey are what’s known as an ‘archipelago’ – a collection of islands located on the English Channel between England and France. A German control tower and observation post with radar in St Ouen, Jersey during the German occupation of the Channel Islands, pictured in 1945 (Picture: TopFoto/PA). WW2 / The Occupation; WW2 / The Occupation. In Alderney, virtually all residents were evacuated and this became the most heavily fortified of the Islands. Yes, the title of the film is not an exaggeration – potato peel pie really was a dish that people were eating at the time. The attorney general of Guernsey, Ambrose Sherwill, actually referred to it as a ‘model occupation’, which very much captured the essence of what the German authorities were trying to achieve. This was for two reasons: firstly, Britain didn’t have the resources to fight for the islanders, and the local people had been told not to resist; secondly, the geography of the Channel Islands would have made it very difficult for a potential resistance to hide and organise ­– the islands were very small, flat and easily searched. The German Occupation of Guernsey, Channel Islands Visit Guernsey May 8, 2019 The biggest impact on the Islands during the 20th century was when … If you subscribe to BBC History Magazine Print or Digital Editions then you can unlock 10 years’ worth of archived history material fully searchable by Topic, Location, Period and Person. In Jersey a number of Jews were deported along with other islanders – they were treated comparatively better than many other Jews in occupied Europe and survived the war. The substantial German garrison and small size oif the islands meant that resistance was impossible. It was one thing to be polite to someone, but it was a massive taboo to actually be in a relationship with ‘the enemy’. There is one house on Lihou, which was used for target practice by heavy artillery during the Occupation. While there wasn’t a resistance in the militarised sense of the word, there were definitely moments of rebellion – acts of arson and graffiti, for example. But a couple of Jews did die as a result of the occupation and the impossible new German laws – for example, one man’s shop was forcibly closed and he committed suicide, and another had a mental breakdown. And our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today.’. Islanders collecting Red Cross parcels from Le Riche’s shop in St Peter Port, Guernsey. Copyright © Historic UK Ltd. Company Registered in England No. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. But, many parents tell a different story as their future was looking increasingly uncertain as the years went by. In Jersey the arrival of the invader was equally un-dramatic. The smaller islands of Sark fell on 2 July and Alderney on 4 July 1940. It gives a good overview in different sections from invasion to liberation. Officers used the Island for shooting and training, and by the end of the Occupation there was only one Guernsey family living there. It varied between the islands to some extent. I think for some of the local men, the resentment that they had about the occupation was targeted at these women. They imposed a curfew, made everyone carry identity cards, banned the sale of spirits and later banned radios. Although these were just notes written to a child, she was very worried about showing them to me in case I thought she had been a ‘collaborator’. A. Hitler’s ‘model occupation’ in the Channel Islands was possible because there wasn’t much resistance. There are many families living in Guernsey whose parents or grandparents can recall specific details from life as a child during the Occupation. The five-year German occupation came to an end on 16 May 1945 and the first day the islanders were able to return to their island on December 15 is known as Homecoming Day, an event still celebrated in Alderney with an annual Bank Holiday. The Germans during the WWII occupation of part of Hitler 's Atlantic Wall tells the story of the Channel.. 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