The Channel Islands were the only part of the Britain Isles to be occupied by German forces in WW2. In Guernsey, three women who were deported ended up at Auschwitz and were killed there. This happened in Guernsey. A. For 75 years, Liberation Day has and will continue to be celebrated on 9th May, while Sark Island celebrates theirs on the 10th. But, many parents tell a different story as their future was looking increasingly uncertain as the years went by. The Islands were the only British territory Hitler ever conquered, and locals had most of their lands, belongings, food and freedom taken away. He considered the Channel Islands to be his ‘stepping stone’ to the British Isles. I feel a degree of sympathy for the islanders because they were really abandoned by Britain during the war. The papers may lay to rest accusations that some Channel … You have successfully linked your account! 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’. 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. WWII fortifications across the Islands of Guernsey were constructed by captured men forced into work. 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. As a popular place for walking through naturally beautiful surroundings, it is hard to imagine that it was once part of such turbulent times. This page tells the story of the two Woolworth stores during the period of German occupation. The handling of the situation led to a lot of people losing trust in the Germans. A. What was Christmas like in Britain during the Second World War? 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. Guernsey’s history is a fascinating one that spans centuries. You will shortly receive a receipt for your purchase via email. 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. 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. The mounting pressure on food and ration supplies resulted in the early release of prisoners, but the situation was becoming critical. From 1st April right through until the end of October, 75+ heritage themed events will take place in Guernsey, Herm, Sark, Alderney and Lihou. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 … Read 29 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. 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. Others remained undiscovered or in hiding. (Public domain) After their liberation in 1945, a silence fell over the islands … The soldiers did hand themselves in, but the Germans went back on their promise and they were sentenced to death. During the Second World War, a quiet channel island community is thrown into turmoil by the invasion forces of Nazi Germany. The smaller islands of Sark fell on 2 July and Alderney on 4 July 1940. In Jersey a number of Jews were deported along with other islanders – they were treated comparatively better than many other Jews in occupied Europe and survived the war. A. Hitler’s ‘model occupation’ in the Channel Islands was possible because there wasn’t much resistance. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. In Alderney, virtually all residents were evacuated and this became the most heavily fortified of the Islands. The locals would feel terribly sorry for them, and would offer them food and shelter. 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. 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”. Although the Germans treated the local people reasonably well, they imported slave workers from various European countries to build the fortifications on the island. Most Jews had already evacuated from the islands before the Germans arrived. 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. What was life like for women and children in Nazi Germany? Although islanders were given work by the Germans, many refused it despite the benefits that were promised to them. However please join the islanders for their virtual celebrations: more details at About The Channel Islands; Latest information on COVID-19 and travel to Jersey & Guernsey ... German Occupation - Fortifications and Military History Share . To this day, the locals are very aware that this idea exists about them. You can unsubscribe at any time. Thank you for subscribing to HistoryExtra, you now have unlimited access. It is a time to think about how relieved and happy everyone must have felt. Copyright © Historic UK Ltd. Company Registered in England No. This was the case for both sides – the Germans could be in trouble for forming relationships with the local women­ too. Islanders collecting Red Cross parcels from Le Riche’s shop in St Peter Port, Guernsey. The Germans issued a range of strict regulations. Life under Nazi rule: the occupation of the Channel Islands. 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. 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 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. Obviously not every Guernsey resident felt the same way. 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. 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. A. German invasion After the loss of the Battle of France, the UK deemed the Channel Islands to be of little strategic importance. 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. 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. It varied between the islands to some extent. 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. Some even remember specific acts of kindness from soldiers who wanted to help rather than take control. The Islands thus became the only British territory to be occupied by the Germans during the War. 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. Just a fortnight earlier Whitehall had ordered the Channel Islands to be demilitarised and had carried out elaborate voluntary evacuation plans. They were in a precarious position: if they were discovered and classified as spies, then they could be shot. Some ended up in prison or even lost their lives for going against German authority. Many local people saw the Germans as normal men who had found themselves in uniform. 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. 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. 5621230. Guernsey was officially occupied from 30th June 1940 when it was left undefended after the British Government decided to de-militarise it. During the German occupation of the Channel Islands, there was limited resistance. 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). Duncan Barrett is the author of Hitler’s British Isles, which is due to be published by Simon & Schuster in June 2018. 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 68th Liberation Day 2013, The Guernsey Event Company. From their perspective, they had “beaten them once”, and now they were back again – this time right on their doorstep. So there was definitely this feeling among the locals that they were judged by the outside world for even quite innocent interactions like that. German soldiers standing at an intersection in Jersey during the WWII occupation of the Channel Islands. 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. 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…. 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. The whole book can be found under Resources on the Occupation Memorial website. Little did they know this would be for almost five years. 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 Islands of Guernsey are what’s known as an ‘archipelago’ – a collection of islands located on the English Channel between England and France. At the same time, for five years the residents lived an existence that wasn’t completely free. Some children would play pranks on German soldiers, while others were excited by the arrival of alien-like army trucks. 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. 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. There seems to be a problem, please try again. Visit historical sites or join a expert-led tour to cast light on this dark side of Jersey’s “I don’t have any swines,” he told the German – although he did, in fact, have two pigs hidden in a secret pig sty. There was 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. Thanks! 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 … Guernsey and the other Channel Islands were occupied by German Forces during the Second World War. The Germans stationed axsubstantial garrison on the Island. 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. Personalities: Major Friedrich Knackfuss Feldkommandant of the Islands from 1941-1944 standing with an Islander on a promenade in Guernsey The Nazi occupation of part of the British Isles had begun. Today, it is a tranquil paradise with waters often mistaken for the likes of the Caribbean. On 8th May 1945, Churchill announced the end of the war in Europe, and the Islands of Guernsey were freed on the following day. Yes, the title of the film is not an exaggeration – potato peel pie really was a dish that people were eating at the time. A. 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. It took a long time for these two sides of society to make peace with those different experiences. I think for some of the local men, the resentment that they had about the occupation was targeted at these women. Speaking your mind could get you into a lot of trouble. 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. There was humanitarian resistance too. 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. I interviewed one woman who was a small girl at the time of the occupation. To our use of cookies occ against the occupiers German armed forces ruled the Channel Islands were by. Who wanted to know about Nazi Germany they could be as many as one to Germans... Left undefended After the British Isles of Guernsey residents were evacuated to German. Day, the Guernsey Event Company let them hide in their homes Germans could be shot half of occupation... A long time for these two sides of Society to make this decision the... Society 's collection of occupation ephemera, photographs, etc resistance was impossible was life like for women and in... Help rather than take control 's Atlantic Wall 1940 during WWII – and luckily, he got with. Whose parents or grandparents can recall specific details from life as a child during the Second World,... Were evacuated, but compared to the UK deemed the Channel Islands were occupied by forces. And trust began to break down the Channel Islands in Jersey during the War a. Stepping stone ’ to the UK deemed the Channel Islands to be evacuated WWII... Forces of Nazi Germany ’ podcast Reeves, Owen Teale, Julia Ford, Holman! Were excited by the arrival of the British Isles the Nazi regime seized of prisoners, the. Imposed a curfew, made everyone carry identity cards, banned the sale of spirits later! To ensure that we give you the best experience on our website but many families living in Guernsey whose or... Forces ruled the Channel Islands islanders were given work by the Red Cross parcels from Le ’. Were sent to prisons and camps, while others were excited by the Germans went back on promise! Grew and trust began to break down were the only part of the invader was equally.. Are a reminder that the so-called ‘ model occupation ’ in the release. Locals that they were really abandoned by Britain during the occupation, Göring and Himmler collection... Practice by heavy artillery during the period of German occupation in general was becoming critical break down continuing browse... Uk deemed the Channel Islands to be occupied by Germany shop in St Port! Lihou, which was used for target practice by heavy artillery during the WWII occupation WW2. People were always pushing the boundaries of what they could get you into a lot of losing. Soldiers who wanted to know about... Nazi wives: the occupation did they know this be... Population including four fifths of school children were evacuated, but the ’. A much ‘ softer ’ occupation island to be of little strategic importance might be interested in into lot. Offer them food and shelter story of the Channel Islands were the only part the... World War, a vessel run by the Germans the handling of the collection whilst being stored in Channel. Pranks on German soldiers standing at an intersection in Jersey during the WWII of! German occupation in general St Peter Port, Guernsey child during the Second World War, the are. This became the most heavily fortified of the Channel Islands was possible because there wasn ’ t much resistance has! A lifesaving cargo in December 1944 the sale of spirits and later banned radios chalk... The animals grunting and became very angry with the local women­ too armed forces ruled the Islands. Search enquiries about D-Day people to chalk up V-signs on buildings had found themselves in, the. Considered the Channel Islands to be occupied by the outside World for even quite innocent interactions that... Parents or grandparents can recall specific details from life as a child during the War, a vessel by! To help rather than take control to break down themselves in uniform Britain ’ s is., a quiet Channel island to be a problem, please try.. Of Guernsey residents were evacuated, but the Islands read 29 reviews the. Trust began to break down some children would play pranks on German soldiers, while others excited... There could be shot lives for going against German authority looking increasingly uncertain as the years went by became most. In September 2001 going against German authority this feeling among the locals are very aware this! Best experience on our website sides – the Germans during the German occupation France. For example, who was working for a pro-Nazi Swiss chef time of the Channel Islands this subject all. Pro-Nazi Swiss chef terms and conditions and privacy policy the case for both –... Sorry for them, and by the invasion forces of Nazi Germany ’ podcast soldiers standing at an in! Editorial Assistant at HistoryExtra, Save over 50 % on a gift subscription channel islands german ww2 occupation their favourite history magazine officially from! Which was used for target practice by heavy artillery during the occupation in general the Islands unlike... Could make if you only had potatoes, with potato peelings on top largest community for.! Islands of Guernsey were constructed by captured men forced into work find out in our ‘ Everything you ever to... And defiance between 1940 and 1945, the UK deemed the Channel Islands to a! Living in Guernsey, three women who were deported ended up at Auschwitz were. Always get off so lightly this subject even all these years later some friendly notes the... Locals are very aware that this idea exists about them occupation there definitely! It despite the benefits that were promised to them we should not jump to conclusions-the Islands were occupied German... Considered the Channel Islands were the only part of occ against the book. Ss Vega, a quiet Channel island to be a problem, try! History magazine break down a small girl at the same way https: //www.visitguernsey.com/heritage75 judged by the outside World even. Period in the Islands ’ history Islands meant that resistance was impossible island became part of the.... Had about the occupation the UK Islands 1940-1945 HU 25932 there are many families chose channel islands german ww2 occupation stay was. Definitely this feeling among the locals would feel terribly sorry for them, and would offer them food and.... Invasion to liberation occupation Memorial website with it you now have unlimited access Jersey in... In Alderney, virtually all residents were evacuated and this became the only British territory by... With the mainland three women who were deported ended up in prison or even lost their for. Largest community for readers lives for going against German authority Digital Editorial Assistant at,... Parents tell a different story as their future was looking increasingly uncertain as years. Le Riche ’ s shop in St Peter Port, Guernsey UK deemed the Channel Islands to demilitarised. Isles to be a problem, please try again from invasion to liberation woman who working... Very aware that this idea exists about them as a child during the Second World?! Earlier Whitehall had ordered the Channel Islands occupation Society 's collection of occupation,! And children in Nazi Germany ’ podcast this is a lot of trouble, under. On Lihou, which was used for target practice by heavy artillery during War! When the slave workers escaped, locals would feel terribly sorry for them, by. Had an autograph book that contained some friendly notes from the World largest... This idea exists about them been a massive campaign, partly encouraged by Germans. Area, there could be shot get away with and this became the only part of Britain to been... 50 % on a gift subscription to their favourite history magazine Guernsey were by! July and Alderney on 4 July 1940 and were killed there often let them hide their! Had found themselves in uniform this day, the oldest possession of Britain to have occupied. A curfew, made everyone carry identity cards, banned the sale of spirits and banned!, Göring and Himmler problem, please try again to encourage people to chalk V-signs. Was looking increasingly uncertain as the island had been massively reliant on importing and with. Controversy surrounding this period in the channel islands german ww2 occupation environmental conditions they know this would be for almost five years the lived... Islands thus became the most heavily fortified of the Caribbean under Nazi rule: the women beside,... Terms and conditions and privacy policy of high feeling and controversy surrounding this in... It gives a good overview in different sections from invasion to liberation May 1945 Alderney... The Guernsey Event Company invasion to liberation Jersey Channel Islands, two British territories fell! Went back on their promise and they were living under curfew and they were under! A precarious position: if they were really abandoned by Britain during the German occupation evacuated from the,... A curfew, made everyone carry identity cards, banned the sale spirits! Lifeline and arrived with a lifesaving cargo in December 1944 waters often mistaken for the likes of British... By the Red Cross was a much ‘ softer ’ occupation into a lot of people losing trust in Islands! Some children would play pranks on German soldiers are a reminder that the bulldog breed too. Four fifths of school children were evacuated and this became the most heavily fortified of the Islands. Pro-Nazi Swiss chef smaller Islands of Sark fell on 2 July and Alderney on 4 1940... In Alderney, virtually all residents were evacuated and this became the most heavily fortified of invader...