Channel Island people profited from Nazis

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Details of the German occupation of the Channel Islands were disclosed yesterday, revealing evidence of islanders profiting from their neighbours' misery and the cruelty of the only concentration camp ever operated on British soil.

The last tranche of Channel Island documents, released yesterday at the Public Record Office, throw a harsh light on what the Germans called "the model occupation".

The files are largely transcripts of interrogations of escapees undertaken by MI19 the intelligence organisation charged with building up a picture of enemy resources and morale. They give lists of collaborators and "Jerrybags", island women who slept with German soldiers and frequently bore their children,.

They also provide the fullest picture yet of the horrors of the Alderney camps, where slave workers - mostly Russian - were starved and beaten to death in the sealed off island.

Jersey women's behaviour was resented even more than the food shortage. One anonymous informant told his intelligence debriefer: "The behaviour of a great number of women has been quite disgraceful. There are many illegitimate children on the island born to German fathers ... Many of the mothers are married to serving British soldiers ... The states [island parliament] at present have to pay for the upkeep of these German-sired children but what will happen after the occupation?"

He pointed out that under Jersey law a husband was responsible for the upkeep of his wife's illegitimate children and there was no redress.

The report says: "Informants report a considerable discontent with the states administration. There will after liberation be a general demand for the incorporation of Jersey into the UK ... they speak of timidity and passive acceptance of the demands of the occupying forces. The island bosses moreover have lived well. Though they may have no increased bank balances at the end of the war as evidence against them, they have never gone short of food, fuel and other commodities that are in short supply for the man in the street."

A 24-year-old farmer, Oscar Horman, and his friend Charles Bordis, a clerk, who escaped to England via France after D Day, singled out two racketeers for special attention: Mr Le Gresley, the food controller, and Major Le Masurier, president of the supreme council.

They were accused of taking the small amount of food left behind in 1940 and not commandeered by the Germans. "These few loads were taken by lorry to the private houses of island chefs such as Le Gresley and Le Masurier. This was reported to informants by J Curwood of Rouge Bouillon who was one of the lorry drivers concerned."

Horman and Bordis told the officers of a new party that was formed on the island called the Jersey Democratic Society. "This is not a resistance group it is a movement with post-war aims," the files say. "It leads the campaign for the abolition of Jersey's feudal system and independence by publishing and distributing illegal pamphlets in which instances of graft and double dealing are fully set out with names and evidence."

The escapees described plans for revenge on unfaithful women. "The patriotic youths of the island have their own plans well laid," the papers say. "They are not going to copy the French by cutting off the hair ... They have been collecting stocks of tar for the day of liberation and publicly tar and father all Jerrybags they can lay their hands on ... The local police are determined to turn a blind eye when the husbands return because murder will be done and public opinion will in general approve."

The files give examples of war crimes, including the crucifixion of Russian slave workers and the drowning, in full sight of the Alderney coast, of a bailed-out Lancaster bomber crew without any help being given. They confirm that Kurt Klebeck, who until recently was under investigation for his role in running the concentration camp on Alderney, was "in charge of the prisoners" on the island.

The papers also give a sickening catalogue of the treatment suffered by the slave workers used to build Hitler's Atlantic wall. SS guards used their bloodhounds to hunt the prisoners across the "deadline" so that they would be shot "while attempting to escape".