This has ensured the long-term preservation and security of the collection whilst being stored in the correct environmental conditions. In this section you will find: Guernsey Occupied - this is a past exhibition about the occupation in general. The Islands of Guernsey are what’s known as an ‘archipelago’ – a collection of islands located on the English Channel between England and France. There was humanitarian resistance too. 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”. There are many families living in Guernsey whose parents or grandparents can recall specific details from life as a child during the Occupation. She had an autograph book that contained some friendly notes from the Germans soldiers she got to know. The Nazi occupation of part of the British Isles had begun. Tens of thousands of islanders had been evacuated to Britain just before the Germans arrived on the Channel Islands in 1940, and when they returned there was a difficult period of reintegration. The Jersey garison alone exceeded 11,500 men. Although they were granted a last-minute reprieve on Christmas Eve 1940, by this point one of the men’s fathers had already committed suicide. It was extremely difficult for everyone. I feel a degree of sympathy for the islanders because they were really abandoned by Britain during the war. You have successfully linked your account! ‘Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight. The substantial German garrison and small size oif the islands meant that resistance was impossible. 5621230. (Public domain) After their liberation in 1945, a silence fell over the islands … The Jersey Channel Islands Occupation Society's collection of Occupation ephemera, photographs, etc. In Jersey the arrival of the invader was equally un-dramatic. Those who were discovered to be having these illicit relationships had their heads shaved and were ‘tarred and feathered’ – had liquid tar and feathers poured over them. Some children would play pranks on German soldiers, while others were excited by the arrival of alien-like army trucks. The Channel Islands, two British territories, fell under German occupation in 1940 during WWII. 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. Occupied between 1940 and 1945, the islands were the only part of the British Isles the Nazi regime seized. The Channel Islands, the oldest possession of Britain’s monarchy, were the only British territory occupied by Germany. 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. 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. 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. 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. A. Head over to to browse through the Heritage75 programme and join the Islands of Guernsey in 2020 for a year that is not to be missed! Obviously not every Guernsey resident felt the same way. The whole book can be found under Resources on the Occupation Memorial website. Rachel Dinning is Digital Editorial Assistant at HistoryExtra, Save over 50% on a gift subscription to their favourite history magazine. People were always pushing the boundaries of what they could get away with. The Germans stationed axsubstantial garrison on the Island. 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 is a lot of high feeling and controversy surrounding this period in the Islands’ history. 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. 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. 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. When the slave workers escaped, locals would often let them hide in their homes. But when you have tens of thousands of young men and women in one place, it’s inevitable what will happen. The Islands thus became the only British territory to be occupied by the Germans during the War. He considered the Channel Islands to be his ‘stepping stone’ to the British Isles. It was a meal you could make if you only had potatoes, with potato peelings on top. 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. 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. Guernsey fell to the Germans without a shot being fired on 30 June 1940, with Jersey falling the following day on 1 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. Q. A. What was Christmas like in Britain during the Second World War? 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. All five Islands quickly found themselves under German rule, each serving their own purpose for what became known as ‘Hitler’s Island Madness’ as the Channel Islands became the most fortified place in the world. 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. 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 … Yes, the title of the film is not an exaggeration – potato peel pie really was a dish that people were eating at the time. Although the Germans treated the local people reasonably well, they imported slave workers from various European countries to build the fortifications on the island. 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 large number of these people were Russians who were treated particularly badly by the Nazis, who viewed them as “Untermenschen” (sub-human). The Islands of Guernsey are what’s known as an ‘archipelago’ – a collection of islands located on the English Channel between England and France. The smaller islands of Sark fell on 2 July and Alderney on 4 July 1940. This was the case for both sides – the Germans could be in trouble for forming relationships with the local women­ too. From 1st April right through until the end of October, 75+ heritage themed events will take place in Guernsey, Herm, Sark, Alderney and Lihou. Visit historical sites or join a expert-led tour to cast light on this dark side of Jersey’s 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. Finally, in 1945, an announcement was given by Prime Minister Winston Churchill: The Jerrybags who slept with German soldiers are a reminder that the bulldog breed collaborated too. 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. There was one woman, for example, who was working for a pro-Nazi Swiss chef. 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. Listen on the podcast: Military historian Peter Caddick-Adams responds to listener queries and popular search enquiries about D-Day. 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. A. Hitler’s ‘model occupation’ in the Channel Islands was possible because there wasn’t much resistance. With Saskia Reeves, Owen Teale, Julia Ford, Clare Holman. 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. 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. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. 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