A large number of these people were Russians who were treated particularly badly by the Nazis, who viewed them as “Untermenschen” (sub-human). 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! 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. In Jersey the arrival of the invader was equally un-dramatic. Guernsey’s history is a fascinating one that spans centuries. 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. It was one thing to be polite to someone, but it was a massive taboo to actually be in a relationship with ‘the enemy’. 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. 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…. The Channel Islands were the only part of Britain to have been occupied by German forces in World War II. The Islands of Guernsey are what’s known as an ‘archipelago’ – a collection of islands located on the English Channel between England and France. 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. 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. Although islanders were given work by the Germans, many refused it despite the benefits that were promised to them. On 8th May 1945, Churchill announced the end of the war in Europe, and the Islands of Guernsey were freed on the following day. The whole book can be found under Resources on the Occupation Memorial website. As a popular place for walking through naturally beautiful surroundings, it is hard to imagine that it was once part of such turbulent times. 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’. The Germans stationed axsubstantial garrison on the Island. 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. Throughout Europe there had been a massive campaign, partly encouraged by the BBC, to encourage people to chalk up V-signs on buildings. The substantial German garrison and small size oif the islands meant that resistance was impossible. 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 don’t have any swines,” he told the German – although he did, in fact, have two pigs hidden in a secret pig sty. A. Hitler’s ‘model occupation’ in the Channel Islands was possible because there wasn’t much resistance. 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. A. 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. German armed forces ruled the Channel Islands from June 1940 until May 1945. Guernsey was officially occupied from 30th June 1940 when it was left undefended after the British Government decided to de-militarise it. A. was deposited at the Jersey Archive in September 2001. 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. They couldn’t speak freely, they were living under curfew and they were often struggling for food. 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…. There is one house on Lihou, which was used for target practice by heavy artillery during the Occupation. Just a fortnight earlier Whitehall had ordered the Channel Islands to be demilitarised and had carried out elaborate voluntary evacuation plans. German soldiers standing at an intersection in Jersey during the WWII occupation of the Channel Islands. Islanders collecting Red Cross parcels from Le Riche’s shop in St Peter Port, Guernsey. The German Occupation of Guernsey, Channel Islands Visit Guernsey May 8, 2019 The biggest impact on the Islands during the 20th century was when … A. 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. 5621230. There are many families living in Guernsey whose parents or grandparents can recall specific details from life as a child during the Occupation. I feel a degree of sympathy for the islanders because they were really abandoned by Britain during the war. 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. However please join the islanders for their virtual celebrations: more details at The locals would feel terribly sorry for them, and would offer them food and shelter. The German heard the animals grunting and became very angry with the man. This happened in Guernsey. The mounting pressure on food and ration supplies resulted in the early release of prisoners, but the situation was becoming critical. The Jerrybags who slept with German soldiers are a reminder that the bulldog breed collaborated too. Obviously not every Guernsey resident felt the same way. The Germans issued a range of strict regulations. 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. There seems to be a problem, please try again. 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. 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. Many local people saw the Germans as normal men who had found themselves in uniform. They imposed a curfew, made everyone carry identity cards, banned the sale of spirits and later banned radios. The handling of the situation led to a lot of people losing trust in the Germans. There was one woman, for example, who was working for a pro-Nazi Swiss chef. 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. She brought with her food and medical supplies. German troops landed on Guernsey on June 30, 1940, on Jersey July 1, on Sark July 3 and on Alderney July 4. 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. People didn’t always get off so lightly. This was the case for both sides – the Germans could be in trouble for forming relationships with the local women­ too. 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. A. A. During the German occupation of the Channel Islands, there was limited resistance. Find out in our ‘Everything you need to know about Nazi Germany’ podcast. Yes, the title of the film is not an exaggeration – potato peel pie really was a dish that people were eating at the time. Islanders all had different experiences of the war as some sadly lost their lives and loved ones, while others formed civil relationships and found new ways to live with their enemies. The Channel Islands, the oldest possession of Britain’s monarchy, were the only British territory occupied by Germany. 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. Officers used the Island for shooting and training, and by the end of the Occupation there was only one Guernsey family living there. Most Jews had already evacuated from the islands before the Germans arrived. 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. There was humanitarian resistance too. Thank you for subscribing to HistoryExtra, you now have unlimited access. 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’. It varied between the islands to some extent. Everything you ever wanted to know about... Nazi wives: the women beside Hess, Goebbels, Göring and Himmler. This has ensured the long-term preservation and security of the collection whilst being stored in the correct environmental conditions. 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. Little did they know this would be for almost five years. Please enter your number below. For 75 years, Liberation Day has and will continue to be celebrated on 9th May, while Sark Island celebrates theirs on the 10th. But when you have tens of thousands of young men and women in one place, it’s inevitable what will happen. So if the Germans had invaded Britain, I think people would have been able to fight back in a way that just wasn’t possible on the Channel Islands. Visit historical sites or join a expert-led tour to cast light on this dark side of Jersey’s Thanks! Some ended up in prison or even lost their lives for going against German authority. In Alderney, virtually all residents were evacuated and this became the most heavily fortified of the Islands. Today, it is a tranquil paradise with waters often mistaken for the likes of the Caribbean. Many of them lived in people’s houses, so if you had a spare room, then you were likely to have a German living with you. The pig-owner had to pretend that he hadn’t understood the original question – and luckily, he got away with it. The Channel Islands were liberated a day after the official end of the war in Europe and this joyous event is celebrated annually on 9 May. 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 … When the slave workers escaped, locals would often let them hide in their homes. But, many parents tell a different story as their future was looking increasingly uncertain as the years went by. Life under Nazi rule: the occupation of the Channel Islands. And our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today.’. Copyright © Historic UK Ltd. Company Registered in England No. The papers may lay to rest accusations that some Channel … 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. Read 29 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. 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 … 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. It was extremely tough, but compared to the German occupation in France or Holland it was a much ‘softer’ occupation. Finally, in 1945, an announcement was given by Prime Minister Winston Churchill: Occupied between 1940 and 1945, the islands were the only part of the British Isles the Nazi regime seized. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. 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. 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. In Jersey, for example, one physiotherapist hid a Jewish woman in his basement for years while he treated the German soldiers in his consulting room directly above. Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister at the time, was hesitant to make this decision but the Islands offered no strategic benefit. It was extremely difficult for everyone. The SS Vega, a vessel run by the Red Cross was a lifeline and arrived with a lifesaving cargo in December 1944. 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. 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. He considered the Channel Islands to be his ‘stepping stone’ to the British Isles. A. WWII fortifications across the Islands of Guernsey were constructed by captured men forced into work. 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. Against The Tide book. 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. At the same time, for five years the residents lived an existence that wasn’t completely free. 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. Even so, over twenty civilians died for resistance against the occupiers. 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. Guernsey and the other Channel Islands were occupied by German Forces during the Second World War. He is also Patron of The Jersey Film Society. 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. It gives a good overview in different sections from invasion to liberation. I would also argue that the so-called ‘model occupation’ became harder to sustain as tensions grew and trust began to break down. Depending on the area, there could be as many as one to two Germans per islander. Speaking your mind could get you into a lot of trouble. 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. Rachel Dinning is Digital Editorial Assistant at HistoryExtra, Save over 50% on a gift subscription to their favourite history magazine. Some were sent to prisons and camps, while others resisted with acts of protest and defiance between 1940 and 1945. 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. About The Channel Islands; Latest information on COVID-19 and travel to Jersey & Guernsey ... German Occupation - Fortifications and Military History Share . Personalities: Major Friedrich Knackfuss Feldkommandant of the Islands from 1941-1944 standing with an Islander on a promenade in Guernsey The German occupation of the Channel Islands still haunts Britain's image of itself at war. Guernsey fell to the Germans without a shot being fired on 30 June 1940, with Jersey falling the following day on 1 July 1940. German invasion After the loss of the Battle of France, the UK deemed the Channel Islands to be of little strategic importance. But Colin Smith argues that we should not jump to conclusions-the Islands were unlike any other part of occ Around half of the Islands’ population including four fifths of school children were evacuated to the UK. Dame Sybil Hathaway, Seigneur of Sark during the Occupation. So there was definitely this feeling among the locals that they were judged by the outside world for even quite innocent interactions like that. What was life like for women and children in Nazi Germany? It took a long time for these two sides of society to make peace with those different experiences. 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’. 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. WW2 / The Occupation; WW2 / The Occupation. (Public domain) After their liberation in 1945, a silence fell over the islands … 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. Q. Duncan Barrett is the author of Hitler’s British Isles, which is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in June 2018. https://www.visitguernsey.com/heritage75. She had an autograph book that contained some friendly notes from the Germans soldiers she got to know. 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. You can unsubscribe at any time. ‘Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight. 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. 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. 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 occupation and liberation of the channel islands 1940-1945 HU 25932. Listen on the podcast: Military historian Peter Caddick-Adams responds to listener queries and popular search enquiries about D-Day. It is a time to think about how relieved and happy everyone must have felt. 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”. You previously said that the islanders’ relationship with the Germans was … People were always pushing the boundaries of what they could get away with. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. 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