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. I was quite shocked to hear how angry people can get about this subject even all these years later. The Islands were the only British territory Hitler ever conquered, and locals had most of their lands, belongings, food and freedom taken away. They couldn’t speak freely, they were living under curfew and they were often struggling for food. German troops landed on Guernsey on June 30, 1940, on Jersey July 1, on Sark July 3 and on Alderney July 4. The Channel Islands, the oldest possession of Britain’s monarchy, were the only British territory occupied by Germany. When the slave workers escaped, locals would often let them hide in their homes. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. 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’. Yes, the title of the film is not an exaggeration – potato peel pie really was a dish that people were eating at the time. was deposited at the Jersey Archive in September 2001. 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 papers may lay to rest accusations that some Channel … 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. 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. Please enter your number below. Against The Tide book. 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. The Islands of Guernsey are what’s known as an ‘archipelago’ – a collection of islands located on the English Channel between England and France. Copyright © Historic UK Ltd. Company Registered in England No. She brought with her food and medical supplies. What was life like for women and children in Nazi Germany? But Colin Smith argues that we should not jump to conclusions-the Islands were unlike any other part of occ A. 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. For 75 years, Liberation Day has and will continue to be celebrated on 9th May, while Sark Island celebrates theirs on the 10th. 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 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. Life under Nazi rule: the occupation of the Channel Islands. 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 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. 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. It was a meal you could make if you only had potatoes, with potato peelings on top. In Guernsey, three women who were deported ended up at Auschwitz and were killed there. 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. 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. During the Second World War, a quiet channel island community is thrown into turmoil by the invasion forces of Nazi Germany. 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 Germans issued a range of strict regulations. The locals would feel terribly sorry for them, and would offer them food and shelter. 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. 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. 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). Some were sent to prisons and camps, while others resisted with acts of protest and defiance between 1940 and 1945. Guernsey’s history is a fascinating one that spans centuries. 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. 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. German invasion After the loss of the Battle of France, the UK deemed the Channel Islands to be of little strategic importance. Finally, in 1945, an announcement was given by Prime Minister Winston Churchill: Listen on the podcast: Military historian Peter Caddick-Adams responds to listener queries and popular search enquiries about D-Day. 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’. 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. The SS Vega, a vessel run by the Red Cross was a lifeline and arrived with a lifesaving cargo in December 1944. 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. Everything you ever wanted to know about... Nazi wives: the women beside Hess, Goebbels, Göring and Himmler. During the German Occupation of WW2, almost half of Guernsey residents were evacuated, but many families chose to stay. 16.2km away from Guernsey, Sark residents made the decision to remain and Dame Sybil Hathaway, the Seigneur of the Island, was the main point of contact between residents and German soldiers at the time. 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 This was the case for both sides – the Germans could be in trouble for forming relationships with the local women­ too. 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. Little did they know this would be for almost five years. 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. Duncan Barrett is the author of Hitler’s British Isles, which is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in June 2018. ‘Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight. They were in a precarious position: if they were discovered and classified as spies, then they could be shot. 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. The Germans stationed axsubstantial garrison on the Island. With Saskia Reeves, Owen Teale, Julia Ford, Clare Holman. About The Channel Islands; Latest information on COVID-19 and travel to Jersey & Guernsey ... German Occupation - Fortifications and Military History Share . 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. 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. A. Hitler’s ‘model occupation’ in the Channel Islands was possible because there wasn’t much resistance. Personalities: Major Friedrich Knackfuss Feldkommandant of the Islands from 1941-1944 standing with an Islander on a promenade in Guernsey 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”. The substantial German garrison and small size oif the islands meant that resistance was impossible. They imposed a curfew, made everyone carry identity cards, banned the sale of spirits and later banned radios. 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. 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. Rachel Dinning is Digital Editorial Assistant at HistoryExtra, Save over 50% on a gift subscription to their favourite history magazine. The whole book can be found under Resources on the Occupation Memorial website. “I don’t have any swines,” he told the German – although he did, in fact, have two pigs hidden in a secret pig sty. However please join the islanders for their virtual celebrations: more details at 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. In this section you will find: Guernsey Occupied - this is a past exhibition about the occupation in general. 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. 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. Read 29 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. In Jersey the arrival of the invader was equally un-dramatic. 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…. 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. Some even remember specific acts of kindness from soldiers who wanted to help rather than take control. Subscribe to latest events View Event Website Events you might be interested in. The Jerrybags who slept with German soldiers are a reminder that the bulldog breed collaborated too. A. 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. Even so, over twenty civilians died for resistance against the occupiers. He is also Patron of The Jersey Film Society. I would also argue that the so-called ‘model occupation’ became harder to sustain as tensions grew and trust began to break down. You have successfully linked your account! 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. Officers used the Island for shooting and training, and by the end of the Occupation there was only one Guernsey family living there. 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. Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister at the time, was hesitant to make this decision but the Islands offered no strategic benefit. This has ensured the long-term preservation and security of the collection whilst being stored in the correct environmental conditions. 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. 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 … From their perspective, they had “beaten them once”, and now they were back again – this time right on their doorstep. It was extremely difficult for everyone. 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. Q. German soldiers standing at an intersection in Jersey during the WWII occupation of the Channel Islands. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. 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. 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. 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. 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”. There are many families living in Guernsey whose parents or grandparents can recall specific details from life as a child during the Occupation. Visit historical sites or join a expert-led tour to cast light on this dark side of Jersey’s 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…. Thank you for subscribing to HistoryExtra, you now have unlimited access. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. And our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today.’. There seems to be a problem, please try again. Throughout Europe there had been a massive campaign, partly encouraged by the BBC, to encourage people to chalk up V-signs on buildings. 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. 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. A. The German occupation of the Channel Islands still haunts Britain's image of itself at war. VE Day. 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. This happened in Guernsey. A. Some ended up in prison or even lost their lives for going against German authority. 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. 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. You previously said that the islanders’ relationship with the Germans was … There is a lot of high feeling and controversy surrounding this period in the Islands’ history. The Jersey garison alone exceeded 11,500 men. A. There is one house on Lihou, which was used for target practice by heavy artillery during the Occupation. The German Occupation of Guernsey, Channel Islands Visit Guernsey May 8, 2019 The biggest impact on the Islands during the 20th century was when … This page tells the story of the two Woolworth stores during the period of German occupation. The German heard the animals grunting and became very angry with the man. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. The Nazi occupation of part of the British Isles had begun. I feel a degree of sympathy for the islanders because they were really abandoned by Britain during the war. (Public domain) After their liberation in 1945, a silence fell over the islands … 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. 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. The pig-owner had to pretend that he hadn’t understood the original question – and luckily, he got away with it. The Jersey Channel Islands Occupation Society's collection of Occupation ephemera, photographs, etc. 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. Some children would play pranks on German soldiers, while others were excited by the arrival of alien-like army trucks. But when you have tens of thousands of young men and women in one place, it’s inevitable what will happen. 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. 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. 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. Just a fortnight earlier Whitehall had ordered the Channel Islands to be demilitarised and had carried out elaborate voluntary evacuation plans. 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. It varied between the islands to some extent. Before the war, the island had been massively reliant on importing and exporting with the mainland. It took a long time for these two sides of society to make peace with those different experiences. 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. He considered the Channel Islands to be his ‘stepping stone’ to the British Isles. Islanders collecting Red Cross parcels from Le Riche’s shop in St Peter Port, Guernsey. 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. From 1st April right through until the end of October, 75+ heritage themed events will take place in Guernsey, Herm, Sark, Alderney and Lihou. 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’. I interviewed one woman who was a small girl at the time of the occupation. 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. So there was definitely this feeling among the locals that they were judged by the outside world for even quite innocent interactions like that. Alderney was the only Channel Island to be evacuated during WWII as the island became part of Hitler's Atlantic Wall. The Islands thus became the only British territory to be occupied by the Germans during the War. Dame Sybil Hathaway, Seigneur of Sark during the Occupation. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. Around half of the Islands’ population including four fifths of school children were evacuated to the UK. https://www.visitguernsey.com/heritage75. People didn’t always get off so lightly. Guernsey and the other Channel Islands were occupied by German Forces during the Second World War. A large number of these people were Russians who were treated particularly badly by the Nazis, who viewed them as “Untermenschen” (sub-human). Although the Germans treated the local people reasonably well, they imported slave workers from various European countries to build the fortifications on the island. 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