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. 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’. 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 dwindling numbers of islanders present then and alive today have, without exception, vivid memories of the final events of their occupation by German troops. 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. 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. Although there were instances where the people in authority made questionable decisions to keep the peace, you have to remember that everyone was in a very difficult situation and it’s easy to judge actions in hindsight. A. Hitler’s ‘model occupation’ in the Channel Islands was possible because there wasn’t much resistance. Against The Tide book. 68th Liberation Day 2013, The Guernsey Event Company. 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 heard the animals grunting and became very angry with the man. German soldiers standing at an intersection in Jersey during the WWII occupation of the Channel Islands. This was the case for both sides – the Germans could be in trouble for forming relationships with the local women­ too. Some even remember specific acts of kindness from soldiers who wanted to help rather than take control. Finally, in 1945, an announcement was given by Prime Minister Winston Churchill: A. I think it helped that the people in charge of the occupation were these German aristocrats who, if anything, were quite suspicious of Hitler and his fascist ideology. 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. Officers used the Island for shooting and training, and by the end of the Occupation there was only one Guernsey family living there. 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 Germans stationed axsubstantial garrison on the Island. The Islands were the only British territory Hitler ever conquered, and locals had most of their lands, belongings, food and freedom taken away. Everything you ever wanted to know about... Nazi wives: the women beside Hess, Goebbels, Göring and Himmler. While there were a few real Nazis – individuals committed to national socialism and Hitler – the majority of Germans on the island were just ordinary soldiers who wanted to go back to their homes and families. The German Occupation of Guernsey, Channel Islands Visit Guernsey May 8, 2019 The biggest impact on the Islands during the 20th century was when … It was extremely tough, but compared to the German occupation in France or Holland it was a much ‘softer’ occupation. I feel a degree of sympathy for the islanders because they were really abandoned by Britain during the war. 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 … Although the Germans treated the local people reasonably well, they imported slave workers from various European countries to build the fortifications on the island. He considered the Channel Islands to be his ‘stepping stone’ to the British Isles. 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…. Some ended up in prison or even lost their lives for going against German authority. One could say it is a miracle that the remains of the Priory were not completely destroyed as you can still go and see them to this very day. 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). The whole book can be found under Resources on the Occupation Memorial website. 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 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. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Many local people saw the Germans as normal men who had found themselves in uniform. Guernsey fell to the Germans without a shot being fired on 30 June 1940, with Jersey falling the following day on 1 July 1940. Speaking your mind could get you into a lot of trouble. 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. 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”. 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. The Channel Islands, the oldest possession of Britain’s monarchy, were the only British territory occupied by Germany. 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. This has ensured the long-term preservation and security of the collection whilst being stored in the correct environmental conditions. I interviewed one woman who was a small girl at the time of the occupation. WW2 / The Occupation; WW2 / The Occupation. From 1st April right through until the end of October, 75+ heritage themed events will take place in Guernsey, Herm, Sark, Alderney and Lihou. 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. And our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed today.’. Alderney was the only Channel Island to be evacuated during WWII as the island became part of Hitler's Atlantic Wall. Occupied between 1940 and 1945, the islands were the only part of the British Isles the Nazi regime seized. At the same time, for five years the residents lived an existence that wasn’t completely free. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. 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. People didn’t always get off so lightly. Find out in our ‘Everything you need to know about Nazi Germany’ podcast. 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. A. What was life like for women and children in Nazi Germany? Guernsey’s history is a fascinating one that spans centuries. 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. You will shortly receive a receipt for your purchase via email. Obviously not every Guernsey resident felt the same way. The smaller islands of Sark fell on 2 July and Alderney on 4 July 1940. I was quite shocked to hear how angry people can get about this subject even all these years later. On 8th May 1945, Churchill announced the end of the war in Europe, and the Islands of Guernsey were freed on the following day. Islanders collecting Red Cross parcels from Le Riche’s shop in St Peter Port, Guernsey. The locals would feel terribly sorry for them, and would offer them food and shelter. 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 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. Others remained undiscovered or in hiding. German armed forces ruled the Channel Islands from June 1940 until May 1945. During the Second World War, a quiet channel island community is thrown into turmoil by the invasion forces of Nazi Germany. In Jersey the arrival of the invader was equally un-dramatic. 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. A large number of these people were Russians who were treated particularly badly by the Nazis, who viewed them as “Untermenschen” (sub-human). Throughout Europe there had been a massive campaign, partly encouraged by the BBC, to encourage people to chalk up V-signs on buildings. 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. 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. To this day, the locals are very aware that this idea exists about them. They couldn’t speak freely, they were living under curfew and they were often struggling for food. 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. Copyright © Historic UK Ltd. Company Registered in England No. The handling of the situation led to a lot of people losing trust in the Germans. 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. 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