Concerns continue over the behaviour of Austro-Hungarian internees now in Jersey to work on farms. A latest incident seems the most serious yet, leading to an altercation between one internee and a local man – a public fight over the latter’s wife.
The risk of fraternisation between imported internee labourers and local women was always a concern for the authorities. To mitigate risk, the Lieutenant Governor imposed a strict code of conduct on the men. In theory, this forbad them from wandering more than a short distance from their farm and imposed a curfew to keep them on the premises during evenings.
Yet such conditions have not prevented one internee from starting a relationship with a local woman. Wenzel Wagner may not be the first Austro-Hungarian to do so, but his case has raised considerable concerns because the woman is already married. Moreover, her husband is a Jerseyman serving at Fort Regent as a member of the garrison.
The man returned home to find Wagner with his wife. A fight between the two men ensued, reportedly resulting in the soldier being ‘badly mauled and needing medical treatment’.
The authorities have vowed to take disciplinary action against the Austro-Hungarian.
D/Z/H2/8 contains considerable correspondence and reports on the subject of internee labourers and concerns over their behaviour.