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The Channel Islands were occupied by Nazi Germany for much of World War II, from 30 June 1940 until the liberation on 9 May 1945. The Bailiwick of Jersey and Bailiwick of Guernsey are two British Crown dependencies in the English Channel, near the coast of Normandy. The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to be invaded and occupied by German forces during the war.
On 11 June 1940, as part of the British war effort in the Battle of France, a long range RAF aerial sortie carried out by 36 Whitley bombers against the Italian cities of Turin and Genoa departed from small airfields in Jersey and Guernsey. Weather conditions determined that only 10 Whitleys reached their intended targets. Two bombers were lost in the action.
On 15 June, after the Allied defeat in France, the British government decided that the Channel Islands were of no strategic importance and would not be defended, but did not give Germany this information. Thus despite the reluctance of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the British government gave up the oldest possession of the Crown "without firing a single shot". The Channel Islands served no purpose to the Germans other than the propaganda value of having occupied some British territory. The "Channel Islands had been demilitarised and declared...'an open town' ".
On 16 June 1940 the Lieutenant-Governors were instructed to make available as many boats as possible to aid the evacuation of Saint-Malo. Guernsey was too far away to help at such short notice. The Bailiff of Jersey called on the Saint Helier Yacht Club in Jersey to assist. Four yachts set off immediately, with 14 others being made ready within 24 hours. The first yachts arrived in Saint-Malo on the morning of 17 June and embarked troops from shore to waiting transport ships; the remaining yachts from Jersey arrived on 18 June and helped clear the last parties from land.
Although contingency plans had been made for evacuations of government departments in the United Kingdom, no contingencies for evacuation had been planned for the Channel Islands. The British government relaxed restrictions on travel between the UK and the Channel Islands in March 1940, enabling tourists from the UK to avail themselves of morale-boosting holidays in traditional island resorts. The realisation of the necessity of civilian evacuation came very late, and with no forward planning and secrecy being maintained, communications between the island governments and the UK took place in an atmosphere of confusion and misinterpretation. The British Government consulted the islands' elected government representatives in order to formulate a policy regarding evacuation. Opinion was divided and, without a policy being imposed on the islands, chaos ensued and different policies were adopted by the different islands. The British Government concluded their best policy was to make available as many ships as possible so that islanders had the option to leave if they wanted to. The authorities in Alderney, having no direct communication with the UK, recommended that all islanders evacuate, and nearly all did so; the Dame of Sark, Sibyl Hathaway, encouraged everyone to stay. Guernsey evacuated all children of school age, giving the parents the option of keeping their children with them, or evacuating with their school. By 21 June it became apparent to the government of Guernsey that it would be impossible to evacuate everyone who wanted to and priority would have to be given to special categories in the time remaining. The message in Guernsey was changed to an anti-evacuation one; in total 17,000 out of 42,000 evacuated. In Jersey, the majority of islanders, following the consistent advice of the government, chose to stay; 6,600 out of 50,000 evacuated. Official evacuation boats started leaving on 20 June; the last official evacuation boat left on 23 June.
Thousands of children were evacuated with their schools to England and Scotland, and a number of Guernsey headteachers re-established their schools in Britain for the duration of the war. One such school was assisted financially by the 'Foster Parent Plan for Children Affected by War' where each child was sponsored by a wealthy American; one girl, Paulette, was sponsored by Eleanor Roosevelt.
The British Home Office instructed the Lieutenant-Governors that in the eventuality of the recall of the representatives of the Crown, the Bailiffs should take over their responsibilities, and that the Bailiffs and Crown Officers should remain at their posts. The Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey discussed with the Bailiff of Jersey the matter of being required to carry on administration under German orders. The Bailiff considered that this would be contrary to his oath of allegiance, but he was instructed otherwise.
Last-minute arrangements were made to enable British administration to legally continue under the circumstances of occupation. In Jersey the Defence (Jersey) Regulations had been passed in 1939 in accordance with powers granted under the Emergency Powers (Jersey Defence) Order in Council of 1939 (although it later transpired that the Privy Council revoked that Order in 1941, unknown to the States of Jersey, thereby putting in doubt the legal basis of measures taken in accordance with the law as it was believed to have been). The withdrawal of the Lieutenant Governors on 21 June 1940 and the cutting of contact with the Privy Council prevented Royal Assent being given to laws passed by the legislatures, and in Jersey 46 laws had to be retroactively given assent after Liberation through the adoption of the Confirmation of Laws (Jersey) Law 1945. The Bailiffs took over the civil, but not the military, functions of the Lieutenant Governors.
The traditional consensus-based governments of the bailiwicks were unsuited to swift executive action, and therefore in the face of imminent occupation, smaller instruments of government were adopted.
In Guernsey, the States of Deliberation voted on 21 June 1940 to hand responsibility for running Island affairs to a Controlling Committee, under the presidency of HM Attorney General Ambrose Sherwill. Sherwill was selected rather than the Bailiff, Sir Victor Carey, as he was a younger and more robust person. The Committee was given almost all the executive power of the States, and had a quorum of three persons under the president (who could nominate additional members). Membership of the Controlling Committee was initially 8 members. Sherwill was imprisoned by the Germans as a result of his attempts to shelter the British servicemen in the fallout from Operation Ambassador in 1940. He was released but banned from office in January 1941. Jurat John Leale replaced him as president of the Controlling Committee.
The States of Jersey passed the Defence (Transfer of Powers) (Jersey) Regulation 1940 on 27 June 1940 to amalgamate the various executive committees into 8 departments each under the presidency of a States Member. The presidents along with the Crown Officers made up the Superior Council under the presidency of the Bailiff.
Since the legislatures met in public session, the creation of smaller executive bodies that could meet behind closed doors enabled freer discussion of matters such as how far to comply with German orders.
Since the Germans did not realise that the islands had been demilitarised (news of the demilitarisation had been suppressed until 30 June 1940), they approached them with some caution. Reconnaissance flights were inconclusive. On 28 June 1940, they sent a squadron of bombers over the islands and bombed the harbours of Guernsey and Jersey. In St Peter Port, the main town of Guernsey, some lorries lined up to load tomatoes for export to England were mistaken by the reconnaissance for troop carriers. Forty-four islanders were killed in the raids.
While the Wehrmacht was preparing to land an assault force of two battalions to capture the islands, a reconnaissance pilot, Hauptmann Liebe-Pieteritz, made a test landing at Guernsey's deserted airfield on 30 June to determine the level of defence. He reported his brief landing to Luftflotte 3 who came to the decision that the Islands were not defended. A platoon of Luftwaffe soldiers were flown that evening to Guernsey by Junkers transport planes. Inspector Sculpher of the Guernsey police went to the airport carrying a letter signed by the Bailiff stating that "This Island has been declared an Open Island by His Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom. There are no armed forces of any description. The bearer has been instructed to hand this communication to you. He does not understand the German language." He found that the airport had been taken over by the Luftwaffe. The senior German officer, Major Lanz, asked to be taken to the Island's chief man. In this way the Luftwaffe pre-empted the Wehrmacht's invasion plans. They went by police car to the Royal Hotel where they were joined by the Bailiff, the President of the Controlling Committee, and other officials. Lanz announced through an interpreter that Guernsey was now under German occupation. Jersey surrendered on 1 July. Alderney, where only a handful of islanders remained, was occupied on 2 July and a small detachment travelled from Guernsey to Sark, which officially surrendered on 4 July.
The German forces quickly consolidated their positions. They brought in infantry, established communications and anti-aircraft defences, established an air service with mainland France, and rounded up British servicemen on leave.
The Germans organised their administration as part of the department of Manche, administered as part of military government Area A based in St. Germain. Feldkommandantur 515 was set up in Jersey, with a Nebenstelle in Guernsey (also covering Sark), an Aussenstelle in Alderney, and a logistics Zufuhrstelle in Granville.
The Kommandant issued an order in Guernsey on 2 July 1940 and in Jersey on 8 July 1940 instructing that laws passed by the legislatures would have to be given assent by the Kommandant and that German orders were to be registered as legislation. The civil courts would continue in operation, but German military courts would try breaches of German law. At first the Bailiffs submitted legislation for the assent of the Kommandant signed in their capacities as Lieutenant Governors. At the end of 1941, the Kommandant objected to this style and subsequent legislation was submitted simply signed as Bailiff.
The German authorities changed the Channel Island time zone from GMT to CET to bring the islands into line with most of continental Europe, and the rule of the road was also changed to driving on the right. Scrip (occupation money) was issued in Guernsey to keep the economy going. German military forces used their own scrip for payment of goods and services.
A large number of people were active in resistance - a total of around 4000 people were sentenced for breaking German laws (around 2600 in Jersey and 1400 in Guernsey); 570 prisoners were sent to continental prisons and camps, and at least 22 persons from Jersey and 9 from Guernsey did not return. It is estimated that over 200 people in Jersey provided material and moral support to escaped forced workers, including over 100 who were involved in the network of safe houses sheltering escapees. A number of Islanders, such as Peter Crill, escaped. 225 people escaped in total: 150 from Jersey, and 75 from Guernsey. The number of escapes increased after D-Day, when conditions in the islands worsened as supply routes to the continent were cut off and the desire to join in the liberation of Europe increased. By size of population, the percentage of the population who participated in acts of active resistance is estimated to be comparable with that in other occupied European countries.
Resistance involved passive resistance, acts of minor sabotage, sheltering and aiding escaped slave workers, and publishing underground newspapers containing news from BBC Radio. The Guernsey Evening Press and The Star, subject to censorship from the German authorities, continued to publish, eventually on alternate days given the shortage of materials and staff available. After the Germans temporarily removed the editor of The Star, Bill Taylor, from his position, following an article which they deemed offensive, it was edited by Frank Falla. Falla was a key member of the Guernsey 'Resistance', being involved in the Guernsey Underground News Sheet (which went by the acronym GUNS). GUNS published BBC news, illegally received, on a single news sheet. According to his memoirs, through strategic placement of stories handed to him by the German authorities in The Star, he allowed islanders to distinguish easily between German news and stories emanating from Guernsey journalists. Falla was eventually betrayed by an Irish collaborator and, along with his peers who helped to produce GUNS, was deported to Germany. Falla survived, though other members of the organisation did not return from Germany.
There was no armed resistance movement in the Channel Islands on the scale of that in neighbouring France. This has been ascribed to a range of factors including the physical separation of the islands, the density of troops (up to one German for every two islanders), the small size of the islands precluding any hiding places for resistance groups, and the absence of the Gestapo from the occupying forces. Moreover, much of the population of military age had already joined the British or French armed forces. Because of the small size of the islands, most resistance involved individuals risking their lives to save someone else. The British government followed a policy of not encouraging resistance in the Channel Islands. Reasons for this British policy included the fact that resistance within such "parochial limits" was unlikely to be effective, would be of no direct use to the war effort, and the risk of violent retaliation against British citizens in the Islands was not something the wider British population would be likely to accept (as opposed to the hostage-shootings that were occurring in continental Europe).
The lack of attention by researchers paid since Liberation to resistance efforts in the Channel Islands can partly be attributed to the modesty of many resisters, and to the lack of official recognition from the governments. Neither the Occupation nor the Liberation had overthrown the existing governments, in contrast to many other occupied countries in Europe, and the lack of political parties meant that no party could be identified either with alleged collaboration or active resistance. Resistance efforts had been organised through the traditional social networks of the Islands; the absence of political parties and the weakness of trade unions meant that political networks that facilitated resistance in other countries were lacking in the Channel Islands. Patriotic pride was bound up more in survival than in imagery of resistance. Some individuals who were later eligible for awards from the Soviet Union for their help towards Soviet prisoners were reluctant to participate in what they considered propaganda. Personal contacts between fugitive prisoners and the families that had helped them were in some cases maintained after the war despite the Cold War and the barriers to communication. Communists and conscientious objectors, groups regarded with disdain by many Islanders, were among those who identified with and sympathised with fugitive workers. Others sympathised on compassionate grounds; some offering help in the way they hoped members of their own family caught up in the war might be treated by others wherever they might be. Some saw helping fugitives as the only practical way of defying the Germans in the face of obstacles to more active forms of resistance. In other occupied countries, those who sheltered victims of Nazism were generally offering help to local deserters from forced service and Jews - mostly their friends, neighbours, family, or people from the same social milieu. With so few Jews in the community, and the forced labour situation being different, in the Channel Islands those who helped fugitives were generally harbouring strangers with whom they did not share a language.
The policy of the island governments, acting under instructions communicated by the British Government before the occupation, was passive co-operation. This has been criticised (see Bunting)[clarification needed], particularly with regard to the treatment of Jews. Author David Fraser contends that "the most prominent members of the islands' governmental and legal systems, from the Bailiffs, Alexander Coutanche and Victor Carey, to their respective Attorneys-General … actively and willingly enforced these pernicious legal provisions without question and sometimes with apparent enthusiasm." On the other hand, Stephenson and Taylor argue that despite Nazi attempts to "influence the civilian population with … anti-semitic propaganda, there is little evidence that islanders were stimulated into denouncing suspect Jews." Two residents, they say, "are known to have sheltered individual Jews … for extended periods." Paul Sanders interprets Coutanche's remarks to Professor Karl Heinz Pfeffer, head of the Great Britain department at the Institute for Foreign Affairs (Berlin), during a visit to Jersey in 1941 very differently from Fraser. Coutanche's explanation of "decent" co-existence between Jewish and Christian traditions and people in Jersey can, according to Sanders, be interpreted as disapproval of anti-Jewish policy. Albert Bedane hid Mary Richardson, a Dutch Jew who married a British sea captain, for two and a half years.
The number of Jews who remained in the Islands during the Occupation is estimated at between 30 and 50, of whom 18 registered themselves as Jews. The registered Jews in the Islands, often Church of England members with one or two Jewish grandparents, were subjected to the nine Orders Pertaining to Measures Against the Jews, including closing their businesses (or placing them under Aryan administration), giving up their wirelesses, and staying indoors for all but one hour per day. These measures were administered by the Bailiff and the Aliens Office. The civil administrations agonised over how far they could oppose the registration of these orders. Some they felt were not worth opposing as there would be no effect on any individual under their jurisdiction (for example, as the orders that applied in the Channel Islands were issued by the military authorities in France, a number of the measures were irrelevant and inapplicable in the Islands; at the time of the first orders being issued, Sherwill mistakenly believed that all Jews had been safely evacuated and that there were no Jews left in Guernsey to whom the orders would be applicable ). The subsequent arrival of Jews as forced labour revealed the failure of such a gamble. The Bailiff of Jersey refused to ratify the registration of the eighth order requiring the wearing of a yellow star as a "measure too far"; in Guernsey, Jurat Abraham Lainé vigorously opposed, to no avail, the registration of the first order, but the eighth order passed unopposed. As it turned out, despite the orders being issued no Channel Island Jew was required to wear a yellow star in the Islands.
On 13 December 1940 16 young Frenchmen set out in a boat from occupied Brittany with the intention of joining the Free French forces in England. Failure of navigation skills and rough seas led them to land in Guernsey, thinking it was the Isle of Wight. They landed singing the Marseillaise only to be captured straightaway by German sentries. Six of them were transferred to Jersey for trial, where François Scornet (1921-1941) was nominated as the ringleader and at a German military trial in the States Building sentenced to death. He was shot by firing squad on 17 March 1941 in the grounds of Saint Ouen's Manor.
Attitudes to German rule changed as the Occupation went on. At first, the Germans followed a policy of presenting a non-threatening presence to the resident population for its propaganda value ahead of an eventual invasion and occupation of the United Kingdom. Many Islanders were willing to go along with the necessities of Occupation as long as they felt the Germans were behaving in a correct and legal way. Two events particularly jolted many Islanders out of this passive attitude: the confiscation of radios, and the deportation of large sections of the populations.
In May 1942, three youngsters, Peter Hassall, Maurice Gould, and Denis Audrain, attempted to escape from Jersey in a boat (Audrain drowned, Hassall and Gould were imprisoned in Germany, where Gould died). Following this escape attempt, restrictions on small boats and watercraft were introduced, restrictions were imposed on the ownership of photographic equipment (the boys had been carrying photographs of fortifications with them), and radios were confiscated from the population.
Listening to BBC Radio had been banned in the first few weeks of the occupation and then (surprisingly given the policy elsewhere in Nazi-occupied Europe) tolerated for a period before being once again prohibited. In 1942 the ban became draconian, with all radio listening (even to German stations) being banned by the occupiers, a ban backed up by the confiscation of wireless sets.
Denied access to BBC broadcasts, the populations of the Islands felt increased resentment against the Germans and increasingly sought to undermine the rules. Hidden radio receivers and underground news distribution networks spread. Nevertheless, many islanders successfully hid their radios (or replaced them with homemade crystal sets) and continued listening to the BBC despite the risk of being discovered by the Germans or being informed on by neighbours. The regular raids by German personnel hunting for radios further alienated the occupied civilian populations.
The deportations of 1942 sparked the first mass demonstrations of patriotism of the Occupation. The illegality and injustice of the measure, which contrasted with the Germans' earlier showy insistence on legality and correctness, outraged those who remained behind and encouraged many to turn a blind eye to the resistance activities of others in passive support.
The sight of brutality against slave workers brought home to many Islanders the reality of Nazi ideology behind the punctilious façade of the Occupation. Forced marches between camps and work sites by wretched workers and open public beatings rendered visible the brutality of the régime.
Jersey's Medical Officer of Health, Dr Noel McKinstry, a Northern Irelander by birth, was active in providing his own home to shelter fugitives, in providing forged papers and forging statistics in order to be able to issue extra supplies. Officials of the Parish of Saint Helier provided ration cards and identity cards for fugitives. Some individuals taught fugitives English; eventually some fugitives were proficient enough in English to move around and to be able to participate in activities without detection.
Lesbian artists Claude Cahun and Suzanne Malherbe produced anti-German leaflets from English-to-German translations of BBC reports, pasted together to create rhythmic poems and harsh criticism. The couple then dressed up and attended many German military events in Jersey, and put the leaflets in soldiers' pockets, on their chairs, etc. Some leaflets were crumpled up and thrown into cars and windows. In 1944 Cahun and Malherbe were arrested and sentenced to death, but the sentences were never carried out.
No Islanders joined active German military units; however a small number of UK men who had been stranded in the islands at the start of the Occupation joined up from prison. Eddie Chapman, an Englishman, was in prison for burglary in Jersey when the invasion occurred. In prison he met Eric Pleasants. They were later transferred, together with Anthony Faramus, to Fort de Romainville in Paris. Eric Pleasants and Dennis Leister, an Englishman of German extraction, had come to Jersey as part of the Peace Pledge Union party. They took to burglary of houses left unoccupied by families that had evacuated. In 1942 they were sentenced by the German military court for a number of offences and sent to Dijon to serve their sentences. They returned to Jersey on their release in February 1943 but were deported as undesirables to Kreuzberg in Germany. They both joined the British Freikorps. Eddie Chapman became a double agent.
Norman Le Brocq of the Jersey Communist Party led a resistance group called Jersey Democratic Movement. The resistance helped many of the Soviet forced labourers that the Germans had brought to the island. JDM, the JCP and Transport and General Workers’ Union distributed propaganda. With the aid of a German deserter, Paul Mulbach, they apparently had some success in turning the soldiers of the garrison against their masters, including most notably the highest military authority in the Islands, Huffmeier. There is some evidence to suggest that they had even set a date for this mutiny, (1 May 1945,) but that it was rendered pointless by the suicide of Adolf Hitler. Peter Tabb suggests that they were involved in the blowing up of the Palace Hotel and of separate ammo dumps, in actual fact it is more likely that their involvement was to set fire to the hotel, and the German efforts to put out the subsequent blaze, by using dynamite to create a breach between the flames were misjudged and set off charges in a neighbouring ammo dump. Nevertheless, the JCP do seem to have made many plans for organised resistance.
Some island women fraternised with the occupying forces. This was frowned upon by the majority of islanders, who gave them the derogatory nickname Jerry-bags. The extent of "horizontal collaboration" has been exaggerated. Records released by the Public Records Office in 1996 suggest that as many as 900 babies of German fathers were born to Jersey women during the occupation. According to the Ministry of Defence, a very high proportion of women "from all classes and families" had sexual relations with the enemy, and 800-900 children were born to German fathers. The Germans themselves had estimated their troops had been responsible for fathering 60 to 80 illegitimate births in the Channel Islands. As far as official figures went, 176 illegitimate births in total had been registered in Jersey between July 1940 and May 1945; and in Guernsey 259 illegitimate births between July 1941 and June 1945 (the disparity in the official figures is explained by differing legal definitions of illegitimacy in the two jurisdictions). Following Liberation the Security Service calculated a figure of 320 illegitimate births in the Islands, estimating that of those 180 were due to German fathers. The German military authorities themselves tried to prohibit sexual fraternisation in an attempt to reduce incidences of sexually transmitted diseases. They opened brothels for soldiers, staffed with French prostitutes under German medical surveillance.
One side effect of the occupation and local resistance was an increase in the speaking of local languages (Guernésiais in Guernsey and Jèrriais in Jersey). As many of the German soldiers were familiar with both English and French, the indigenous languages enjoyed a brief revival as islanders sought to converse without the Germans understanding.
A shortage of coinage in Jersey (partly caused by occupying troops taking away coins as souvenirs) led to the passing of the Currency Notes (Jersey) Law on 29 April 1941. A series of two shilling notes (blue lettering on orange paper) were issued. The law was amended on 29 November 1941 to provide for further issues of notes of various denominations, and a series of banknotes designed by Edmund Blampied was issued by the States of Jersey in denominations of 6 pence (6d), 1, 2 and 10 shillings (10/-) and 1 pound (£1). The 6d note was designed by Blampied in such a way that the word six on the reverse incorporated an outsized "X" so that when the note was folded, the result was the resistance symbol "V" for victory. A year later he was asked to design six new postage stamps for the island, in denominations of ½d to 3d. As a sign of resistance, he cleverly incorporated into the design for the 3d stamp the script initials GR (for Georgius Rex) on either side of the '3' to display loyalty to King George VI. Edmund Blampied forged stamps for documents for fugitives.
Soon after the sinking of HMS Charybdis on 23 October 1943, the bodies of 21 Royal Navy and Royal Marines men were washed up in Guernsey. The German authorities buried them with full military honours. The funerals became an opportunity for some of the islanders to demonstrate their loyalty to Britain and their opposition to the occupiers: around 5,000 Islanders attended the funeral, laying some 900 wreaths - enough of a demonstration against the Occupation for subsequent military funerals to be closed to civilians by the German occupiers. Every year a commemoration service is held, which is attended by survivors of the action and their relatives, the Guernsey Association of Royal Navy and Royal Marines, Sea Cadets, St John's Ambulance Brigade, the Police and the Red Cross and representatives of the Royal Navy.
His Majesty's Government's reaction to the German invasion was muted, with the Ministry of Information issuing a press release shortly after the Germans landed.
On 6 July 1940, 2nd Lieutenant Hubert Nicolle, a Guernseyman serving with the British Army, was dispatched on a fact-finding mission to Guernsey. He was dropped off the south coast of Guernsey by a submarine and rowed ashore in a canoe under cover of night. This was the first of two visits which Nicolle made to the island. Following the second, he missed his rendezvous and was trapped in the island. After a month and a half in hiding, he gave himself up to the German authorities and was sent to a German prisoner-of-war camp.
On the night of 14 July 1940, Operation Ambassador was launched on Guernsey by men drawn from H Troop of No. 3 Commando under John Durnford-Slater and No. 11 Independent Company. The raiders failed to make contact with the German garrison.
Operation Dryad was a raid on the Casquets lighthouse 2–3 September 1942. In October 1942, there was a British Commando raid on Sark, named Operation Basalt. Four German soldiers were killed and one captured. Operation Huckaback was a raid originally planned for the night of 9/10 February 1943, as simultaneous raids on Herm, Jethou and Brecqhou. The objective was to take prisoners and gain information about the situation in the occupied Channel Islands. Cancelled because of bad weather, Huckaback was reinvented as a raid on Herm alone. Operation Hardtack was a series of commando raids in the Channel Islands and the northern coast of France in December 1943.
As part of the Atlantic Wall, between 1940 and 1945 the occupying German forces and the Organisation Todt constructed fortifications, roads and other facilities in the Channel Islands. Much of work was carried out by imported labour, including thousands from the Soviet Union, and under the supervision of the German forces. The Germans transported over 16,000 slave workers to the Channel Islands to build fortifications. Five categories of construction worker were employed (or used) by the Germans.
Paid foreign labour was recruited from occupied Europe, including French, Belgian and Dutch workers—including some members of resistance movements who used the opportunity to travel to gain access to maps and plans.
Conscripted labourers from France, Belgium and the Netherlands were also assigned. In 1941 hundreds of unemployed French Algerians and Moroccans were handed to the Germans by the Vichy government and sent to Jersey. Around 2000 Spaniards who had taken refuge in France after the Spanish Civil War and who had been interned were handed over for forced labour.
The problem of the use of local labour arose early in the Occupation. On 7 August Deputy Le Quesne, who was in charge of Jersey's Labour Department, refused a German order to provide labour for improvements at Jersey Airport on the grounds that this would be to provide military assistance to the enemy. On 12 August the Germans stated that unless labour was forthcoming men would be conscripted. The builders who had originally built the airport undertook the work under protest. In the face of threats of conscription and deportation to France, resistance to the demands led to an ongoing tussle over the interpretation of the Hague Convention and the definition of military and non-military works. An example that arose was to what extent non-military "gardening" was being intended as military camouflage. On 1 August 1941 the Germans accepted that the Hague Convention laid down that no civilian could be compelled to work on military projects. However the case of the reinforcement of sea walls, which could legitimately be described as civilian sea defences (important for islands) but were undeniably of military benefit in terms of coastal defence, showed how difficult it was to distinguish in practice. Economic necessity drove many Islanders to take up employment offered by the Germans, taking the opportunity to sabotage or delay works, and to steal tools and provisions. Lorry drivers siphoned off scarce petrol to barter for food with farmers. The Germans also induced civilian labour by offering those who contravened curfew or other regulations employment on building projects as an alternative to deportation to Germany.
The fifth category of labour were British conscientious objectors and Irish citizens. As many of the Islands' young men had joined the Armed Forces at the outbreak of war, there was a shortfall in manual labour on the farms, particularly for the potato crop. 150 registered conscientious objectors associated with the Peace Pledge Union and 456 Irish workers were recruited for Jersey. A number of these chose to remain and were trapped by the Occupation. Some of the conscientious objectors were communists and regarded the German-Soviet pact as a justification for working for the Germans. Others participated in non-violent resistance activities. As the Irish workers were citizens of a neutral country (see Irish neutrality during World War II), they were free to work for the Germans as they wished and many did so. The Germans attempted to foster anti-British and IRA sympathies with propaganda events aimed at the Irish (see also Irish Republican Army – Abwehr collaboration in World War II). John Francis Reilly convinced 72 of his fellow Irishmen in 1942 to volunteer for employment at the Hermann Gõring ironworks near Braunschweig. Conditions were unpleasant and they returned to Jersey in 1943. Reilly stayed behind in Germany to broadcast on radio and joined the SS Sicherheitsdienst.
The Channel Islands were amongst the most heavily fortified parts of the Atlantic Wall, particularly Alderney which is the closest to France. On 20 October 1941 Hitler signed a directive, against the advice of Commander-in-Chief von Witzleben, to turn the Channel Islands into an "impregnable fortress". In the course of 1942, one twelfth of the resources funnelled into the whole Atlantic Wall was dedicated to the fortification of the Channel Islands. Hitler had decreed that 10% of the steel and concrete used in the Atlantic Wall go to the Channel Islands. It is often said the Channel Islands were better defended than the Normandy beaches, given the large number of tunnels and bunkers around the Islands. By 1944 in tunneling alone, 244,000 m3 of rock had been extracted collectively from Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney (the majority from Jersey). At the same point in 1944 the entire Atlantic Wall from Norway to the Franco-Spanish border, excluding the Channel Islands, had extracted some 225,000 m3.
Light railways were built in Jersey and Guernsey to supply coastal fortifications. In Jersey, a one-metre gauge line was laid down following the route of the former Jersey Railway from St Helier to La Corbière, with a branch line connecting the stone quarry at Ronez in St John. A 60 cm line ran along the west coast, and another was laid out heading east from St Helier to Gorey. The first line was opened in July 1942, the ceremony being disrupted by passively-resisting Jersey spectators. The Alderney Railway was taken over by the Germans who lifted part of the standard gauge line and replaced it with a metre gauge line, worked by two Feldbahn 0-4-0 diesel locomotives. The German railway infrastructure was dismantled after the liberation in 1945.
The Germans showed in the Channel Islands what they would have done to British Jews had they occupied Britain. There were only a small number of foreign and British Jews in the Channel Islands. Most of the Channel Island's Jews evacuated in June 1940, but officials did not permit foreign Jews to leave for Britain. Three Jewish women of German and Polish nationality, Therese Steiner, Auguste Spitz, and Marianne Grünfeld, had fled Central Europe to Guernsey in the 1930s but had been unable to leave Guernsey as part of the evacuation in 1940 as they were excluded by UK law. They were deported to France in April 1942 to be later shipped to Auschwitz where they were died. There were 17 Jews in the Islands when the Germans arrived. Soon after the German occupation, officials issued the first anti-Jewish Order (October 1940) which instructed the police to identify Jews as part of the registration process. Island authorities complied, and their registration cards were marked with red “J”s; additionally, a list was compiled of Jewish property which were turned over to German authorities.[Fraser] Placards were placed on Jewish shops in German and English –’Jewish Undertaking’, and in turn most of the local Jewish populace had to sell their businesses. The process developed differently in the three islands. Jersey Jews and 22 Jersey islanders died in concentration camps. However, local officials made some effort to mitigate anti-Semitic measures by the Nazi occupying force, and as such refused to require Jews to wear identifying yellow stars and had most former Jewish business returned after the war. Nevertheless, police officials on both Jersey and Guernsey complied with the requirements of civil registration, including Jewish identity, imposed by the Germans (although officials in the registration department also procured false documents for some of those who fell within categories suspected by the Germans). Extra curfews were imposed on the Jewish population of the islands, and most were forced to stay inside for the large part of the day. The Duquemin family was deported as well, but survived the war.
However, the anti-Jewish repressions were not carried out systematically. Jews of British citizenship were less likely to be persecuted than foreigners. A number of well-known Jews lived through the Occupation in comparative openness, including Marianne Blampied, the wife of artist Edmund Blampied.
Freemasonry was suppressed by the Germans. The Masonic Temples in Jersey and Guernsey were ransacked in January 1941 and furnishings and regalia were seized and taken to Berlin for display. Lists of membership of Masonic lodges were examined. The States in both bailiwicks passed legislation to nationalise Masonic property later in 1941 in order to protect the buildings and assets. The legislatures resisted attempts to pass anti-Masonic measures and no individual Freemason was persecuted for his adherence.
In 1942, the German authorities announced that all residents of the Channel Islands who were not born in the islands, as well as those men who had served as officers in World War I, were to be deported. The majority of them were transported to the south west of Germany, notably to Ilag V-B at Biberach an der Riss and Ilag VII at Laufen, and Wurzach. This deportation decision came directly from Adolf Hitler, as a reprisal for German civilians in Iran being deported and interned. The ratio was 20 Channel Islanders to be interned for every one German interned. Guernsey nurse Gladys Skillett, who was five months pregnant at the time of her deportation to Biberach, became the first Channel Islander to give birth while in captivity in Germany.
The Germans built four concentration camps in Alderney. The camps were subcamps of the Neuengamme concentration camp outside Hamburg and each was named after one of the Frisian Islands: Lager Norderney located at Saye, Lager Borkum at Platte Saline, Lager Sylt near the old telegraph tower at La Foulère and Lager Helgoland in the north west corner of Alderney. The Nazi Organisation Todt operated each subcamp and used forced labour to build bunkers, gun emplacements, air raid shelters, and concrete fortifications. The camps commenced operation in January 1942 and had a total inmate population of about 6,000.
The Borkum and Helgoland camps were "volunteer" (Hilfswillige) labour camps and the labourers in those camps were treated harshly but marginally better than the inmates at the Sylt and Norderney camps. The prisoners in Lager Sylt and Lager Norderney were slave labourers forced to build the many military fortifications and installations throughout Alderney. Sylt camp held Jewish forced labourers. Norderney camp housed European (mainly Eastern Europeans but including Spaniards) and Soviet forced labourers. Lager Borkum was used for German technicians and "volunteers" from different countries of Europe. Lager Helgoland was filled with Soviet Organisation Todt workers.
In 1942, Lager Norderney, containing Soviet and Polish POWs, and Lager Sylt, holding Jews, were placed under the control of the SS Hauptsturmführer Max List. Over 700 of the inmates lost their lives before the camps were closed and the remaining inmates transferred to Germany in 1944. 
As self-governing Crown Dependencies, the Channel Islands had no elected representatives in the British Parliament. It therefore fell to evacuees and other islanders living in the United Kingdom prior to the occupation to ensure that the islanders were not forgotten. The Jersey Society in London, which had been formed in 1896, provided a focal point for exiled Jerseymen. In 1943, a number of influential Guernseymen living in London formed the Guernsey Society to provide a similar focal point and network for Guernsey exiles. Besides relief work, these groups also undertook studies to plan for economic reconstruction and political reform after the end of the war. The pamphlet Nos Îles published in London by a committee of islanders was influential in the 1948 reform of the constitutions of the Bailiwicks. Sir Donald Banks felt that there must be an informed voice and body of opinion among exiled Guernseymen and women that could influence the British Government, and assist the insular authorities after the hostilities were over. In 1942, he was approached by the Home Office to see if anything could be done to get over a reassuring message to the islanders, as it was known that, despite the fact that German authorities had banned radios, that the BBC was still being picked up secretly in Guernsey and Jersey. It was broadcast by the BBC on 24 April 1942.
Bertram Falle, a Jerseyman, had been elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Portsmouth in 1910. Eight times elected to the House of Commons, in 1934 he was raised to the House of Lords with the title of Lord Portsea. During the occupation he represented the interests of islanders and pressed the British government to relieve their plight, especially after the islands were cut off after D-Day.
Committees of émigré Channel Islanders elsewhere in the British Empire also banded together to provide relief for evacuees. For example, Philippe William Luce (writer and journalist, 1882–1966) founded the Vancouver Channel Islands Society in 1940 to raise money for evacuees.
During June 1944, the Allied Forces launched the D-Day landings and the liberation of Normandy. They decided to bypass the Channel Islands due to their heavy fortifications described above. As a result, German supply lines for food and other supplies through France were completely severed. The islanders' food supplies were already dwindling, and this made matters considerably worse - the islanders and German forces alike were on the point of starvation.
Churchill's reaction to the plight of the German garrison was to "let 'em rot", even though this meant that the islanders had to rot with them. It took months of protracted negotiations before the International Red Cross ship SS Vega was permitted to relieve the starving islanders in December 1944, bringing Red Cross food parcels, salt and soap, as well as medical and surgical supplies. The Vega made five further trips to the islands before liberation in May 1945.
Although plans had been drawn up and proposed in 1943 by Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten for Operation Constellation, a military reconquest of the islands, these plans were never carried out. The Channel Islands were liberated after the German surrender.
On 8 May 1945 at 10:00 AM the islanders were informed by the German authorities that the war was over. Churchill made a radio broadcast at 3:00 PM during which he announced that:
The following morning, 9 May 1945, HMS Bulldog arrived in St Peter Port, Guernsey and the German forces surrendered unconditionally aboard the vessel at dawn. British forces landed in St Peter Port shortly afterwards, greeted by crowds of joyous but malnourished islanders.
HMS Beagle, which had set out at the same time from Plymouth, performed a similar role in liberating Jersey. Two naval officers, one of whom was Surgeon Lt Ronald McDonald, were met by the Harbour Master who escorted them to the Harbourmaster's Office where they together hoisted the Union Flag, before also raising it on the flagstaff of the Pomme D'Or Hotel. This is re-enacted every year. From 2003 to 2011 Harbourmaster and Jerseyman Captain Howard Le Cornu performed this annually. His father John E. Le Cornu and uncle David M. Le Cornu had been in the crowds and had witnessed the occasion on 9 May 1945.
It appears that the first place liberated in Jersey may have been the British General Post Office Jersey repeater station. Mr Warder, a GPO lineman, had been stranded in the island during the occupation. He did not wait for the island to be liberated and went to the repeater station where he informed the German officer in charge that he was taking over the building on behalf of the British Post Office.
Sark was not liberated until 10 May 1945, and the German troops in Alderney did not surrender until 16 May 1945. The German prisoners of war were not removed from Alderney until 20 May 1945, and its population could not start to return until December 1945, after clearing up had been carried out by German troops under British military supervision.
The main Liberation forces arrived in the islands on 12 May 1945. A Royal Proclamation read out by Brigadier Alfred Snow in both Guernsey and Jersey vested the authority of military government in him. The British Government had planned for the relief and restoration of order in the islands. Food, clothing, pots and pans and household necessities had been stockpiled so as to supply islanders immediately. It was decided that to minimise financial disruption Reichsmarks would continue in circulation until they could be exchanged for sterling.
In Sark, the Dame was left in command of the 275 German troops in the island until 17 May when they were transferred as prisoners of war to England. The UK Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, visited Guernsey on 14 May and Jersey on 15 May and offered an explanation in person to the States in both bailiwicks as to why it had been felt in the interests of the islands not to defend them in 1940 and not to use force to liberate them after D-Day.
On 7 June the King and Queen visited Jersey and Guernsey to welcome the oldest possessions of the Crown back to freedom.
Since the state of affairs in the islands had been largely unknown and there had been uncertainty as to the extent of resistance by the German forces, the Defence (Channel Islands) Regulations of 1944 had vested sweeping administrative powers in the military governor. As it turned out that the German surrender was entirely peaceful and orderly and civil order had been maintained, these regulations were used only for technical purposes such as reverting to Greenwich Mean Time. Each bailiwick was left to make its own regulations as necessary. However the situation of retrospectively regularising legislation passed without Royal Assent had to be dealt with. Brigadier Snow signed regulations on 13 June (promulgated 16 June) to renew orders in Jersey and ordinances in Guernsey as though there had been no interruption in their technical validity. The period of military government lasted until 25 August 1945 when new Lieutenant Governors in each bailiwick were appointed.
Following the liberation of 1945, allegations of collaboration with the occupying authorities were investigated. By November 1946, the UK Home Secretary was in a position to inform the House of Commons that most of the allegations lacked substance and only 12 cases of collaboration were considered for prosecution, but the Director of Public Prosecutions had ruled out prosecutions on insufficient grounds. In particular, it was decided that there were no legal grounds for proceeding against those alleged to have informed to the occupying authorities against their fellow-citizens. The only trials connected to the Occupation of the Channel Islands to be conducted under the Treachery Act 1940 were against individuals from among those who had come to the Islands from Britain in 1939-1940 for agricultural work. These included conscientious objectors associated with the Peace Pledge Union and people of Irish extraction.
In Jersey and Guernsey, laws were passed to confiscate retrospectively the financial gains made by war profiteers and black marketeers, although these measures also affected those who had made legitimate profits during the years of military occupation.
'Jerry-bags' were women who had fraternized with German soldiers. This had aroused indignation among some citizens. In the hours following the liberation, members of the British liberating forces were obliged to intervene to prevent revenge attacks.
For two years after the liberation, Alderney was operated as a communal farm. Craftsmen were paid by their employers, whilst others were paid by the local government out of the profit from the sales of farm produce. Remaining profits were put aside to repay the British Government for repairing and rebuilding the island. As a result of resentment by the local population about not being allowed to control their own land, the Home Office set up an enquiry that led to the "Government of Alderney Law 1948", which came into force on 1 January 1949. The law provided for an elected States of Alderney, a justice system and, for the first time in Alderney, the imposition of taxes. Due to the small population of Alderney, it was believed that the island could not be self-sufficient in running the airport and the harbour, as well as in providing an acceptable level of services. The taxes were therefore collected into the general Bailiwick of Guernsey revenue funds (at the same rate as Guernsey) and administered by the States of Guernsey. Guernsey became responsible for many governmental functions and services.
Particularly in Guernsey, which evacuated the majority of school-age children ahead of the occupation, the occupation weakened the indigenous culture of the island. Many felt that the children "left as Guerns and returned as English". This was particularly felt in the loss of the local dialect - children who were fluent in Guernesiais when they left, found that after five years of non-use they had lost much of the language.
In December 1945 a list of British honours was announced to recognise a certain number of prominent islanders for services during the Occupation. The Bailiff of Jersey, Alexander Coutanche, the Bailiff of Guernsey, Victor Carey, and Jurat Leale, President of the Controlling Committee, Guernsey, were knighted. Charles Duret Aubin, HM Attorney-General, Jersey, Jurat Dorey, Jersey, and Ambrose Sherwill, HM Procureur, Guernsey, received CBEs. Jurat Bree, Jersey, CJ Cuming, Connétable of Saint Helier, Jersey, Deputy R Johns, Guernsey, Dr McKinstry, Medical Officer of Health, Jersey, HE Marquand, Guernsey, A Symons, Health Officer, Guernsey, K Bond, Jersey, HF Ereaut, Jersey, L Guillemette, Guernsey, E Hall, Guernsey, G Heggs, Guernsey, J Loveridge, Guernsey, E Young, Guernsey, received OBEs. BEMs were awarded to Deputy W Bertram, Jersey, H Bichard, Guernsey, T Camp, Jersey, T Cross, Jersey, J Fraser, Jersey, A Lamy, Guernsey, E Langmead, Guernsey, M Messervy, Jersey, and J Remphry, Jersey.
The abandoned German equipment and fortifications posed a serious safety risk and there were many accidents after the occupation resulting in several deaths. Many of the bunkers, batteries and tunnels can still be seen today. Some have been restored, such as Battery Lothringen and Ho8, and are open for the general public to visit. After the occupation, the islanders used some of the fortifications for other purposes, but most were stripped out in scrap drives (and by souvenir hunters) and left abandoned. One bunker was transformed into a fish hatchery and a large tunnel complex was made into a mushroom farm.
After World War II, a court-martial case was prepared against ex-SS Hauptsturmführer Max List (the former commandant of Lagers Norderney and Sylt), citing atrocities in Alderney. However, he did not stand trial, and is believed to have lived near Hamburg until his death in the 1980s.
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