The Channel Islands became part of Hitler's Atlantic Wall and were heavily fortified by thousands of forced workers brought over from the continent.  The garrison meant that one in every four people in the islands was a member of the German forces.

The Occupation of the Channel Islands by the Germans between 1940 and 1945 was such a momentous event that it probably defines the Islands identity in the 20th century.  For islanders the Second World War is simply referred to as "The Occupation".

The Channel Islands became part of Hitler's Atlantic Wall and were heavily fortified by thousands of forced workers brought over from the continent.  The garrison meant that one in every four people in the islands was a member of the German forces.  For the civilian population life became very hard; in 1940 families were split as hundreds of men enlisted in the British forces and thousands of others chose to evacuate to the mainland.  In late 1942 over 2,500 British-born islanders were deported to camps in Germany.  

When Liberation finally came on 9 May 1945 life in the islands would never again be the same.  The memories of this period are captured by the Occupation tapestry

While the physical landscape is permanently scarred by the more concrete reminders of the past for all to see, the tapestry is a recognition of the importance of the memories and personal experiences of a those islanders who were here during that time. Created to mark the 50th anniversary of Jersey's liberation in 1995 the tapestry containing over 7,500,000 stitches and  took nearly 30,000 hours to make.  It was officially unveiled by the Prince of Wales on Liberation Day 1995.

There are a number of other sites and museums around the Island associated with the Occupation.  The Command Bunker at la Hougue Bie was opened in 1948 as the first Occupation Museum in the Island but in late 2000 it was decided to remove the display of Nazi military from the bunker and re-open it as a memorial to all the forced workers who had been brought to the Channel Islands from across occupied Europe to work on the military installations.

 

Downloads

Sample Lesson Plan for a visit to the Occupation Tapestry Gallery.

German Occupation Source Pack - Linked with the Occupation Tapestry Panels – this Source Pack uses original documents held at the Jersey Archive to illustrate and explain the German Occupation in Jersey. Please read the information on using the source pack.

Torn From Home –  Powerpoint about the people evacuated and deported from Jersey before and during the German Occupation.

Occupation Time Line - take a look at the animated timeline

 

Background Reading

Causes of World War II and what was happening in Jersey - Information Sheet

What happened during the German Occupation in Jersey and the Channel Islands – Information sheet

Forced Workers Memorial at La Hougue Bie – Information Sheet

 

Websites

Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

Frank Falla Archive – this website has details about all of the people who were imprisoned and sent to camps from the Channel Islands

CIOS – (the Channel Islands Occupation Society)