Little did they know this would be for almost five years. 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. A. People didn’t always get off so lightly. The German occupation of the Channel Islands still haunts Britain's image of itself at war. Some were sent to prisons and camps, while others resisted with acts of protest and defiance between 1940 and 1945. 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 Islands were the only British territory Hitler ever conquered, and locals had most of their lands, belongings, food and freedom taken away. Guernsey was officially occupied from 30th June 1940 when it was left undefended after the British Government decided to de-militarise it. 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. It was extremely tough, but compared to the German occupation in France or Holland it was a much ‘softer’ occupation. There are many families living in Guernsey whose parents or grandparents can recall specific details from life as a child during the Occupation. 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. There is one house on Lihou, which was used for target practice by heavy artillery during the Occupation. Even so, over twenty civilians died for resistance against the occupiers. With Saskia Reeves, Owen Teale, Julia Ford, Clare Holman. Thank you for subscribing to HistoryExtra, you now have unlimited access. She had an autograph book that contained some friendly notes from the Germans soldiers she got to know. The Jerrybags who slept with German soldiers are a reminder that the bulldog breed collaborated too. 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. 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’. A. VE Day. Q. Guernsey fell to the Germans without a shot being fired on 30 June 1940, with Jersey falling the following day on 1 July 1940. But Colin Smith argues that we should not jump to conclusions-the Islands were unlike any other part of occ Obviously not every Guernsey resident felt the same way. 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 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 politically took on a policy of “passive cooperation.” Fearing a German monopolization of oil, Britain interned German civilians living in Persia in 1941. I was quite shocked to hear how angry people can get about this subject even all these years later. It was extremely difficult for everyone. A large number of these people were Russians who were treated particularly badly by the Nazis, who viewed them as “Untermenschen” (sub-human). A. Depending on the area, there could be as many as one to two Germans per islander. A. In Alderney, virtually all residents were evacuated and this became the most heavily fortified of the Islands. German troops landed on Guernsey on June 30, 1940, on Jersey July 1, on Sark July 3 and on Alderney July 4. 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. As 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Islands of Guernsey, the festivities will be kept alive for even longer as a special recognition of this. 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. Before the war, the island had been massively reliant on importing and exporting with the mainland. WWII fortifications across the Islands of Guernsey were constructed by captured men forced into work. There seems to be a problem, please try again. 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. Please enter your number below. When the slave workers escaped, locals would often let them hide in their homes. Guernsey’s history is a fascinating one that spans centuries. 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. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. German armed forces ruled the Channel Islands from June 1940 until May 1945. Copyright © Historic UK Ltd. Company Registered in England No. I think for some of the local men, the resentment that they had about the occupation was targeted at these women. 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. But, many parents tell a different story as their future was looking increasingly uncertain as the years went by. They were in a precarious position: if they were discovered and classified as spies, then they could be shot. 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. What was life like for women and children in Nazi Germany? The smaller islands of Sark fell on 2 July and Alderney on 4 July 1940. Alderney was the only Channel Island to be evacuated during WWII as the island became part of Hitler's Atlantic Wall. 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 papers may lay to rest accusations that some Channel … Some even remember specific acts of kindness from soldiers who wanted to help rather than take control. You can unsubscribe at any time. This page tells the story of the two Woolworth stores during the period of German occupation. You previously said that the islanders’ relationship with the Germans was … 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. Having a relationship with someone from the ‘other side’ was considered much worse than some of the wrongdoings that – to me – seemed more deserving of anger: collaboration, dodgy trading with the Germans, etc. The Jersey Channel Islands Occupation Society's collection of Occupation ephemera, photographs, etc. Rachel Dinning is Digital Editorial Assistant at HistoryExtra, Save over 50% on a gift subscription to their favourite history magazine. Everything you ever wanted to know about... Nazi wives: the women beside Hess, Goebbels, Göring and Himmler. 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. This happened in Guernsey. The German Occupation of Guernsey, Channel Islands Visit Guernsey May 8, 2019 The biggest impact on the Islands during the 20th century was when … German invasion After the loss of the Battle of France, the UK deemed the Channel Islands to be of little strategic importance. Listen on the podcast: Military historian Peter Caddick-Adams responds to listener queries and popular search enquiries about D-Day. The Nazi occupation of part of the British Isles had begun. In Guernsey, three women who were deported ended up at Auschwitz and were killed there. 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. Speaking your mind could get you into a lot of trouble. Thanks! 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. 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’. 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. Yes, the title of the film is not an exaggeration – potato peel pie really was a dish that people were eating at the time. Guernsey and the other Channel Islands were occupied by German Forces during the Second World War. There is a lot of high feeling and controversy surrounding this period in the Islands’ history. They imposed a curfew, made everyone carry identity cards, banned the sale of spirits and later banned radios. 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…. 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…. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. 68th Liberation Day 2013, The Guernsey Event Company. Just a fortnight earlier Whitehall had ordered the Channel Islands to be demilitarised and had carried out elaborate voluntary evacuation plans. However please join the islanders for their virtual celebrations: more details at 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. From their perspective, they had “beaten them once”, and now they were back again – this time right on their doorstep. Although islanders were given work by the Germans, many refused it despite the benefits that were promised to them. ‘Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight. 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. Subscribe to latest events View Event Website Events you might be interested in. Personalities: Major Friedrich Knackfuss Feldkommandant of the Islands from 1941-1944 standing with an Islander on a promenade in Guernsey It varied between the islands to some extent. 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. Some children would play pranks on German soldiers, while others were excited by the arrival of alien-like army trucks. 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’. 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”. 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. For 75 years, Liberation Day has and will continue to be celebrated on 9th May, while Sark Island celebrates theirs on the 10th. He is also Patron of The Jersey Film Society. German planes bombed the harbour in Guernsey’s capital parish of St Peter Port after mistaking a group of tomato lorries for a convoy of troop carriers and, after 48 hours, German troops began to land and their flag was raised. 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. During the German Occupation of WW2, almost half of Guernsey residents were evacuated, but many families chose to stay. 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, the oldest possession of Britain’s monarchy, were the only British territory occupied by Germany. Life under Nazi rule: the occupation of the Channel Islands. A. Hitler’s ‘model occupation’ in the Channel Islands was possible because there wasn’t much resistance. 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. There was humanitarian resistance too. 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