The Germans showed on the Channel Islands what they would have done to British Jews had they occupied Britain.
(We follow here on www.4international.me with 2 articles which show that the British fought World War 2 for its own interests and that if there had been a Nazi occupation of Britain then British Quislings would surely have joined in with the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews)
There were only a small number of foreign and British Jews on the Channel Islands. Most of the Channel Island Jews wisely evacuted (June 1940), but officials did not permit foreign Jews to leave for Britain. There were 17 Jews on the Islands when the Germans arrived. Soon after the German occuption, officials issued the first anti-Jewish Order (October 1940). They instructed the police to idetify Jews as part of the registation process. Island authorities complied. Their registration cards were marked with red “J”s. Authorities also compiled lists of Jewish property which was turned over to German authorities. [Fraser] Placard were placed on jewish-owned shops in German and English –‘Jewish Undertaking’. Jewish had to sell their businesses. The process developed differently on the three islands, Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney. Jersey Jews and 22 Jersey islanders died in concentration camps. Officials made some effort to mitigate anti-Semitic measures the NAZIs demanded. They refused to require Jews to wear yellow stars. They did formally Aryanise businesses, but they were returned after the war. Even so, Jewish families had to struggled to survive after being deprived of their livelihoods. Police officials on Jersey and Guernsey did investigate Jewish ancestry for the Germans. Curfews were imposed on Jews. Shopping was limited to 3-4 pm. Two Jersey Jews committed suicide. One was admitted to an asylum where he subsequntly died. There were heros. Albert Bedane hid Mary Richardson, a Dutch Jewess who married a British sea captain, for 2 1/2 years. Guernsey police handed over three East European Jewish women to the NAZIS who deported then first to France where they were rounded up and transported to Auschwitz. The Duquemin fmily, including an 18-month-old baby girl, were deported but survived. Alderney was the site of the only SS camp on British soil–the Norderney Camp. The camp was for slave labor who worked on the island. The Jews were kept separated from the other prisoners. The NAZIs transported over 16,000 slave workers to the Channel Islands to build fortifications. Among these workers were 1,000 French Jews. [Cohen] Many of these slave laborers died from exhaustion and malnutrition.
It’s not hard to understand why the British feel so proud about their role in the Second World War. The undeniable truth is that this country, led by Winston Churchill, held out against the Germans in 1940 and thus prevented the Nazi domination of Western Europe.
And, of course, by thwarting the Germans the British never had to endure Nazi occupation and so didn’t have to discover just how many people in this land would have collaborated with the enemy. It’s this, I’ve always felt, that contributes to an underlying sense in the British national consciousness – most often unspoken – that ‘we were better than they were’ (and the ‘they’ usually – again normally unsaid – means the French).
But were we? Because something that happened seventy years ago this month ought to give us pause.
In April 1942 three Jews were deported from Guernsey in the Channel Islands. The Nazi occupiers had requested that the Channel Islands authorities co-operate in the persecution of the Jews and co-operate they most certainly did. The previous year, 1941, officials in the Channel Islands had called for all Jews to come forward and be registered – something that was the beginning of their suffering. Jewish businesses were compulsorily sold and at least one Jew on Jersey, Victor Emmanuel, ended up committing suicide.
The police on Guernsey – who wore the traditional uniform of the British ‘bobby’ – ordered three Jews, Auguste Spitz, Marianne Grunfeld and Therese Steiner to report for deportation from the island on 21 April. Therese Steiner, brought before Sergeant Ernest Plevin of the Guernsey police, burst into tears and told him that she would never see him again.
She was right. Once in France all three of the women from Guernsey were caught up in further Jewish deportations and transported to Auschwitz. None of them survived the war.
Whilst the authorities on the Channel Islands didn’t know for sure what would happen to the Jews that were deported, they certainly knew how much the Nazis hated the Jews and that those Jews sent from Guernsey were almost certain to experience further suffering away from the island.
Is what happened on the Channel Islands any indicator of what might have happened here on the British mainland if the Nazis had occupied this country? Well, I’ve been on holiday to both Jersey and Guernsey with my family and can certainly say these islands appear more British than anything else…
And remember the words of a British intelligence report from August 1945: ‘When the Germans proposed to put their anti-Jewish measures into force, no protest whatever was raised by any of the Guernsey officials and they hastened to give the Germans every assistance.’