The mounting pressure on food and ration supplies resulted in the early release of prisoners, but the situation was becoming critical. 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). Visit historical sites or join a expert-led tour to cast light on this dark side of Jersey’s The Germans stationed axsubstantial garrison on the Island. Q. 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. However please join the islanders for their virtual celebrations: more details at You previously said that the islanders’ relationship with the Germans was … The substantial German garrison and small size oif the islands meant that resistance was impossible. There is a lot of high feeling and controversy surrounding this period in the Islands’ history. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. At the same time, for five years the residents lived an existence that wasn’t completely free. The soldiers did hand themselves in, but the Germans went back on their promise and they were sentenced to death. I feel a degree of sympathy for the islanders because they were really abandoned by Britain during the war. A. “I don’t have any swines,” he told the German – although he did, in fact, have two pigs hidden in a secret pig sty. 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. 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. It was one thing to be polite to someone, but it was a massive taboo to actually be in a relationship with ‘the enemy’. Throughout Europe there had been a massive campaign, partly encouraged by the BBC, to encourage people to chalk up V-signs on buildings. WWII fortifications across the Islands of Guernsey were constructed by captured men forced into work. 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. Life under Nazi rule: the occupation of the Channel Islands. 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 gives a good overview in different sections from invasion to liberation. 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. German troops landed on Guernsey on June 30, 1940, on Jersey July 1, on Sark July 3 and on Alderney July 4. 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 … Some ended up in prison or even lost their lives for going against German authority. 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. He is also Patron of The Jersey Film Society. Although considered to be hidden gems, the islands were not able to evade German occupation during World War II and subsequently the number of fortifications that still stand today and the history that surrounds them is both fascinating and astonishing. 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. Copyright © Historic UK Ltd. Company Registered in England No. They couldn’t speak freely, they were living under curfew and they were often struggling for food. 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. There is one house on Lihou, which was used for target practice by heavy artillery during the Occupation. 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…. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. 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. WW2 / The Occupation; WW2 / The Occupation. 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. The smaller islands of Sark fell on 2 July and Alderney on 4 July 1940. 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. 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. 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. 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. The Islands were the only British territory Hitler ever conquered, and locals had most of their lands, belongings, food and freedom taken away. A. Finally, in 1945, an announcement was given by Prime Minister Winston Churchill: 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. Thanks! 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. There was one woman, for example, who was working for a pro-Nazi Swiss chef. It was extremely difficult for everyone. 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. The Channel Islands, two British territories, fell under German occupation in 1940 during WWII. 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. The whole book can be found under Resources on the Occupation Memorial website. Today, it is a tranquil paradise with waters often mistaken for the likes of the Caribbean. You can unsubscribe at any time. 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. 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. The papers may lay to rest accusations that some Channel … Alderney was the only Channel Island to be evacuated during WWII as the island became part of Hitler's Atlantic Wall. Before the war, the island had been massively reliant on importing and exporting with the mainland. Subscribe to latest events View Event Website Events you might be interested in. A. Hitler’s ‘model occupation’ in the Channel Islands was possible because there wasn’t much resistance. 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. Some were sent to prisons and camps, while others resisted with acts of protest and defiance between 1940 and 1945. Thank you for subscribing to HistoryExtra, you now have unlimited access. This was for two reasons: firstly, Britain didn’t have the resources to fight for the islanders, and the local people had been told not to resist; secondly, the geography of the Channel Islands would have made it very difficult for a potential resistance to hide and organise ­– the islands were very small, flat and easily searched. 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. 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’. Little did they know this would be for almost five years. 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. I would also argue that the so-called ‘model occupation’ became harder to sustain as tensions grew and trust began to break down. 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. The handling of the situation led to a lot of people losing trust in the Germans. The official website for BBC History Magazine, BBC History Revealed and BBC World Histories Magazine, Save over 50% on a BBC History Magazine or BBC History Revealed gift subscription, Occupied by the Germans between 1940 and 1945, the Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to have been seized by the Nazi regime. 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. Some children would play pranks on German soldiers, while others were excited by the arrival of alien-like army trucks. 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. Occupied between 1940 and 1945, the islands were the only part of the British Isles the Nazi regime seized. Rachel Dinning is Digital Editorial Assistant at HistoryExtra, Save over 50% on a gift subscription to their favourite history magazine. From themed tours and guided walks to exhibitions, family fun days and exclusive site openings, visitors will be able to delve into a wide range of experiences. The German heard the animals grunting and became very angry with the man. A. 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. She brought with her food and medical supplies. There was humanitarian resistance too. She had an autograph book that contained some friendly notes from the Germans soldiers she got to know. Jack Higgins has lived in Jersey for over 30 years, in which time he has taken a special interest in the German Occupation of the Channel Islands. 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. As a popular place for walking through naturally beautiful surroundings, it is hard to imagine that it was once part of such turbulent times. 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. was deposited at the Jersey Archive in September 2001. You have successfully linked your account! From the Publisher We produce a large number of books about the German Occupation of the Channel Islands and this has been our best seller by far. I think for some of the local men, the resentment that they had about the occupation was targeted at these women. Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister at the time, was hesitant to make this decision but the Islands offered no strategic benefit. 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. The SS Vega, a vessel run by the Red Cross was a lifeline and arrived with a lifesaving cargo in December 1944. The Jerrybags who slept with German soldiers are a reminder that the bulldog breed collaborated too. In Jersey the arrival of the invader was equally un-dramatic. Yes, the title of the film is not an exaggeration – potato peel pie really was a dish that people were eating at the time. German soldiers standing at an intersection in Jersey during the WWII occupation of the Channel Islands. 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