Macus Roberts historian, lecturer & author
Channel Island Deportations of British Citizens
‘First they came…’ The Channel Islands
By Marcus Roberts
( Director JTrails,the National Anglo-Jewish Heritage Trail )
This Article has been reproduced by kind permission of Marcus Roberts.
The wartime German occupation of the Channel Island has led to the creation of a number of inter- locked ‘open secrets’, that persist even to this day. The record of the Channel Islands occupation is dominated by atrocities and outrages committed against prisoners and civilians by the Germans.
The Channel Islands government were at the very least supine to the demands of the Germans and at times easily collaborated with them, as testified in accounts by a number of witnesses and historians. Post-war, the British Government have been effective in managing these ‘open secrets’ by creating a false Channel Islands narrative of ‘nothing too bad happened here’, with the
consequence that efforts to tell the real story nearly always ends up with being starved of the oxygen of publicity.
The deportation of c. 2,300 British Citizens to France and Germany, with the connivance of the Channel Islands authorities, is one of these open secrets. At least 45 of the number died and the
2,300 also included British born Jews, as well as foreign Jews, trapped by events on the islands and then betrayed, some of whom were included in the reported death toll. This article visits some of
the documentation in the National Archive, appended to the Pantcheff files, concerning the organisation and conduct of the deportations, by both the Germans and Channel Island authorities.
My research provides some new evidence that the transport may have included other assimilated Anglo-Jews, not expressly identified by the German and Channel Island authorities.
The deportation has been brought to the attention of the public again, by the work of the Jersey Occupation Civilian Campaign. The campaign helped instigate a petition for a Parliamentary Early
Day Motion, on 26 October, 2021, calling on Parliament to recognise the importance of erecting a memorial to the civilians on Jersey who suffered under the German Occupation, with particular reference to those who were deported to German in inhumane conditions and called for all of the facts to be revealed to the public. This public plea for openness adds further pressure on the British Government to open all of its Channel Island files, following the Sunday Times expose in the summer of my research on the Moscow copy of the ‘Pantcheff Report’, concerning the covered-up British investigation into concentration camps on Alderney, in an article by Gabriel Pogrund. This led to Boris Johnson declaring in answer to a PMQs from MP Matthew Offord, that the files would be opened in January, 2022.
Together, with islander, Michael James, who campaigns on Twitter, as the ‘Alderney Truth Seeker’, we examined files in the National Archive that listed the deportees from the Channel Islands and
provided copies of the lists to the Campaign. This has enabled them to publish the names of many of the deportees, through the Jersey Occupation Civilian Campaign. We also re-visited affidavits
given by members of the States of Guernsey and Jersey, to war crimes investigators, describing how the deportations took place and defending their actions.
The British authorities withdrew from the Channel Islands in June 1940 on the basis that they were not of strategic value and were indefensible. They allowed them to be occupied by the Germans
who felt them to be of strategic value and then rendered Alderney so well defended that the British conceded that to retake it would a main force of 4 infantry battalions and one parachute battalion
and very large numbers of other men and materiel to take it for just 48 hours! The withdrawal of the British allowed German barbarity to descend upon the islands, even though for many decades it
was dressed up for public consumption as a ‘model occupation’ and the mass deaths of slave workers in the Alderney camps, was another ‘open secret’, along with the mistreatment and deaths
of prisoners on the other Channel Islands. Subsequent researchers and historians have painted a convincing picture of collaboration by the Civilian government in the Channel Islands and in particularly were readily complicit with the Germans and actively assisted the Germans in the identification and deportation of Jews who were trapped on the islands - an act of betrayal that
paved the way for the main deportations of other British subjects three months later.
The start of the process of deportation lay with the requirement all the persons of the islands to register with the authorities from December 1940, which was a critical event. Then, in July 1940
Hitler directed that all British citizens, who were not permanent residents of the Channel Islands, should be deported, along with all men, between ages 16 to 70, who were not born on the Channel Islands. This was allegedly because the British had interned German citizens in Persia, though in reality many had been expelled and allowed to return to Germany and a residue of a relatively small group of about 500 men of military age were sent to internment camps in Australia and India.
However, this led to Hitler demanding a reprisal list of British subjects to be drawn up, which after a delay, led to a hurried deportation of stranded British citizens and other aliens to camps in France,
Germany and other locations.
In October 1941, all Jews on the islands were required to register with the German authorities. The first group of Jews were subsequently deported from Guernsey on 21 April 1942, three months before the main deportation of British subjects. The Channel Islands authorities had willingly given- up foreign Jews to the Germans and actually took decisions as to whether or not they were Jewish according to German racial laws. Some of the deported Jews had made the mistake of confiding to the Channel Islands authorities their Jewish status, who then betrayed them to the Nazis. This was then followed by multiple deportation transports of British subjects, including the residual other
British and foreign Jews, who had not been deported previously. This was all very reminiscent of the situation described in the famous poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller, ‘First They Came’.
The first main waves of deportation were in summer and early autumn, 1942, and a second wave, in 1943. This actually coincided with the start of mass deportations of Jews and prisoners from France,
when the German authorities in France were under pressure to meet targets for deportation, indicating that other factors were probably in play too. The deportation of a second group of Jews,
from both Guernsey and Jersey, occurred with the second wave of main deportations, in February 1943. There were 6 identified Jews deported from Guernsey and 5 from Jersey.
British war-crimes investigators at the Judge Advocate-General’s Office in London (JAG) considered the deportation of British subjects to be a war-crime, as it broke international law, and ran an investigation into it, alongside the main investigation into war-crimes on Alderney. A document from JAG, of 2 June, 1945, listed key statements taken from witnesses and the accused, about Alderney. It also appended and noted the need for further evidence concerning, ‘the matter of the
deportation of British subjects from the Islands’. In particular, JAG was keen to understand who was in command of the Germans, and noted that, ‘it is very probably that the civil authorities were given
orders in writing regarding the deportations and if this is so it will help considerably to trace the persons responsible.’ At this stage it seems that they had not considered that the civil authorities
may have been implicated in the deportations, or had been placed German orders into Channel Islands law.
The files at Kew show that this was followed up and the main (initial) war-crimes investigator in the Channel Islands, Major Haddock, obtained sworn affidavits from leaders and officials from the States
of Jersey and Guernsey concerning the deportations, the officials involved and the orders that had been given. The involvement of Haddock shows the seriousness with which the British were treating
this as a potential war-crime. The Affidavits are headed, ‘in the matter of German war crimes’ followed by the name of the person giving the affidavit, also prefaced, ‘in the matter of’. Therefore, the files at Kew indicate that this matter and the role of States officials in the deportations, were certainly seen as important witnesses, as well perhaps, as potential co-conspirators, in war crimes with the Germans.
The statement by Constable Sydney Crill, reveals that on Jersey, the Bailiff and Attorney General,
followed by the island Constables, were summoned to the German Field Command, and a meeting with the Field Commandant, on Jersey, Col. Knackfuss, in early September, 1942, and told that the
Fuhrer himself had ordered deportations from Jersey with immediate effect.
The Bailiff is stated by one of the Constables to have protested about the deportations strongly. Then the Constables were requested with members of FK515, to attend the Germans, as lists for the deportation were prepared by the Germans, abstracted from the Island Register of Persons, which had been drawn-up by the States of Jersey, following the German Order of December, 1940, which included those born
on the mainland and retired British military officers. The Constables participated in the drawing up of the lists in that they were able to interject if someone in their view, ought not be deported on the
grounds of hardship. At the end of the same month, Crill and his colleagues were told to attend for the preparation of lists for another round of deportations.
The local constables then went with the Germans to serve the notices of deportation, which could only have given the impression that the island authorities were serving and backing the Germans.
The Constables stated they preferred to go with the Germans to deliver the notices to avoid panicking the deportees, as they would be better able to explain what was happening, than the Germans who did not speak English.
These lists of the residency status of those residing in the Channel Islands had been prepared by Clifford Orange, the Chief Aliens Officer of the States of Jersey, as the result of German Orders, but
confirmed, ‘in virtue of the powers conferred upon it by these [German] Regulations, the Sates of Jersey duplicated these into Jersey Law on 28 December, 1940, entitled, ‘The Registration and
Identification of Persons (Jersey) Order, 1940’.
The language used by Clifford Orange is of great interest, as he further states that he had been ‘entrusted’ by the Germans with the ‘duty’ of registering the population. All of this is the feudal
language of vassalage and the German administration and Jersey States appeared fairly seamlessly, with Jersey simply taking orders from the Germans. This would have immediately faced the war
crimes investigators with the immediate problem that the deportations rested not just on Germans ‘orders’, but on Channel Island’s Law, enforced by British officials, made in the Royal Courts, who
thought that they were acting properly and officially. One list prepared by Orange, was the list of British subjects and former British military Officers, resident in the Channel Islands and which was
supplied in November, 1941. The image of supine compliance by Orange certainly evokes the reality of Stockholm Syndrome, where the captive ultimately identifies completely with the captor and abuser.
Clifford Orange stated, that from September, 1942, he refused to supply further lists to the Germans, once he realised the use to which they were being put. Orange’s claim that he was simply
handing over existing lists is not supported by the statements made concerning the creation of the deportation list on Guernsey. There, the deportation list, or ‘muster lists’, requested by Knackfuss,
had to be prepared by the States of Guernsey, following a particular format, so the States of Guernsey were not simply handing over existing lists, but had to carry out considerable work to
abstract the names and prepare the lists in the desired format for the Germans. This would have been the same on Jersey, so Orange’s claims must be seen to be self-serving and the constable’s
claim that the Germans drew-up the lists does not seen to be accurate. An examination of the typing, formatting of the lists (and lack of errors in rendering English names and addresses) indicate
that they were prepared by the States of Jersey and Guernsey.
In the affidavit of the Jersey Bailiff, Alexander Coutanche, he is seen to be seeking to exonerate himself of any wrong-doing and some forethought seems to have gone into his statement. He describes remonstrating against the deportation order to Colonel Knackfuss and suggesting that members of the island government might be entitled to consider resigning, to which Knackfuss
responded that it would be in the interests of the people of Jersey if the island government continued in office. Coutanche said that he could not consent to the Constables having to select
people for deportation. Knackfuss is described as consenting to the Constables not having to serve the deportation notices, but only to providing a guide to finding the address of the deportees.
However, the statement by one of the Jersey Constables, Sydney Crill (the Senior Constable), contradicts this deliberate obfuscation and lie, as he stated that they did deliver the Germans with the notices to the very doors of the deportees – ‘The notices for the deportations were served by
Germans with the Constables in attendance: the latter, although very reluctant to do this, felt it would greatly alleviate the shock to their own people if they attended to explain the position to them, rather than to leave the Germans, most of whom could not speak English, to serve these notices. A meeting of Council followed and it was agreed that they were impotent to do anything about the deportations, but that it would be better for them to remain in office to alleviate the hardship of the islanders. Much of the rest of the affidavit was devoted to out-lining the continuing good works carried out to help the deportees. One vital point made by Coutanche was that the Royal Court (consisting of Coutanche and two Jurats) granted numerous powers of attorney to look
after the properties of deportees, though it is not clear if these powers were granted to the States in
each case, or to other nominated persons. He also states that the Council met to discuss, ‘the discrimination in favour of Jersey born British subjects’ and how they might protest to the Germans on the basis of the promises made to the Channel Islands on it initial capitulation, as well as other points, including the refusal to supply further lists.
The first deportation was on 16 September, 1942, following just three days’ notice and a few people killed themselves because they could not face deportation. This was followed-up with one on the 18th September, following a second summons to the German command at Victoria House to prepare a list. There were four deportations from Jersey, in total, on 16th and 18th September, 1942, as well
as 13 and 25 February 1943.
One heinous aspect of the deportation, was the deportation of many children and babies. The first deportations from Jersey consisted of some of the most vulnerable members of the island community, women and children. The Germans habitually separated men and women and broke-up families as a deliberate deportation tactic to weaken resistance and in the case of Jewish families in Belgium, at this exact time, this tactic was a prelude to annihilation.
During the Jersey Deportation of 18 September, 1942, Harold John Blampied was the doctor who went with the deportees as far as St Malo, on & La France’. He kept notes and recorded, & Many people on boat, steady stream further arrivals. All ages, many babies, prams. Top deck very few. Promenade deck crowded with people sitting on narrow forms, in fact in floats, on floor. Main deck little room. Two holds fitted with benches and tables forward and aft several people with babies
some 500 or more. Terribly crowded and utterly hopeless position if some bad had happened....’
Blampied’s account continued, ‘...just before leaving an elderly man who had been ill for some weeks collapsed and his wife and daughter were excused for one week by [the German Dr.]
Blagwenn, very curtly. Cast off 9 p.m. Great singing, cheering on boat and on pier.... Glorious evening, very warm, not a movement on the sea, All life-belts on - then all lights out and the conditions horrible for crowded passengers. No movement possible without falling over people and their luggage. Anchored in St Aubin bay ... Sailed 2 a.m. with other ships. Through lock (at St Malo) about 8 a.m. Train came along about 8.30 and about 9 a.m. disembarkation began. Small squad
German soldiers did a little to help with luggage. German lieutenant helpful about stretcher for Aste and Woodrow (taken ill during night). Second class carriages, six to carriage, families together. In middle of train big boiler and chap peeling potatoes - thick soup was to be distributed...’
Even though the deportees had avoided the transportation on the Robert Muller, the conditions on the other ships were not only incredibly dangerous, if an incident occurred, but the conditions were very hot and insanitary.
The ships may have been suitable for the movement of troops, but it was emphatically not fit for civilians of both sexes and all ages. A formal protest was made about the conditions on board the ship and how terrible they were for the babies and elderly deportees in particular. The lavatories on the ship & consisted of a series of holes in a plank, discharging into an open gutter on either side of the ship.’ Noel McKinstrey in his report concerning the ships leaving Jersey, said that they were all too small
with inadequate accommodation and toilets. He sent staff on to the ships, & with Chloride of Lime to reduce the smell from the lavatories, and we supplied toilet paper.’ He noted the ‘element of brutality’ in the deportations and that there was no milk provided by the Germans for the Babies – a lack that the States had to cater for. Without this the babies could have perished. The island officials seem to have done nothing to prevent this deportation of the most vulnerable and no comment is made about the need to protect babies and children and remove them from the list.
The only stated exception was that some of the grown-up children of the deportees, who were 18 years of age and financially independent, were given the option of staying.
On Jersey, the Bailiff, Alexander Coutanche sought to exonerate himself of any wrong-doing. He describes remonstrating against the deportation order to Colonel Knackfuss and suggesting that
members of the island government might be entitled to consider resigning, to which Knackfuss responded that it would be in the interests of the people of Jersey if the island government continued in office. Many would say that resignation at this point would have been the best response. Coutanche said that he could not consent to the Constables having to select people for deportation. Knackfuss is described as consenting to the Constables not having to serve the
deportation notices, but only to providing a guide to finding the address of the deportees. However,
the statement by one of the Jersey Constables, Sydney Crill, contradicts this deliberate obfuscation and lie, as he stated that they did deliver the Germans with the notices to the doors of the deportees – ‘The notices for the deportations were served by Germans with the Constables in attendance: the latter, although very reluctant to do this, felt it would greatly alleviate the shock to their own people if they attended to explain the position to them, rather than to leave the Germans, most of whom could not speak English, to serve these notices. A meeting of Council followed and it was agreed that they were impotent to do anything about the deportations, but that it would be better for them to remain in office to alleviate the hardship of the islanders.
Historians have found that in reality that Clifford Orange and the Jersey Bailiff, Alexander Coutanche were highly complicit in Germans plans and were obliging to the German authorities in the identification and registration of Jews in particular and enforced German anti-Jewish regulations with alacrity. Some Jews, when asked to register with Clifford Orange, mistakenly trusted the island
authorities as to their Jewish status. The keenness of the Jersey authorities to oblige Germans orders and not to give any benefit of doubt about Jewish status, meant that Esther Lloyd, was readily identified by them as being Jewish. Esther Lloyd (nee Silver – a well-known Jewish name) was evidently bought up as a Jew in London, as she ‘renounced her Jewish faith’, when she married Billy Lloyd, a Protestant. It seems likely that she admitted to being Jewish, because she was probably considered Jewish by the English Jewish community, before she realised, too late, that she might not be qualify as ‘Jewish’ according to Nazi race laws, as she subsequently claimed that she only had one Jewish grandparent. She got deported to France with the main deportation of British subjects, in 1943, before the Germans allowed the error to be corrected and sent her back.
A British intelligence report from August 1945 also states: ‘When the Germans proposed to put their anti-Jewish measures into force, no protest whatsoever was raised by any of the Guernsey officials
and they hastened to give the Germans every assistance. By contrast, when it was proposed to take steps against the Freemasons, of which there are many in Guernsey, the Bailiff made considerable
protests and did everything possible to protect the Masons.’
More recently, one the heads of Methodist Church, the Rev. Bruce Thompson, came to Jersey to address local Methodists on Christian anti-Semitism and was highly critical of how the former Methodist Church minister and Bailiff, Alexander Coutanche, had willingly given up the local Jews.
In relation to Victor Carey, the Bailiff of Guernsey, I had thought that the story that the British authorities had needed to decide after the War, whether to hang him for collaboration, or knight him, was probably apocryphal. However, a Jewish member of the Carey family is a colleague.
I was told immediately, that the story was indeed true and that the British had only decided not to hang him at the last minute, as to do so and not to give the Knighthood, would otherwise bring disrespect to the suffering of the people of the Channel islands during the Occupation. Furthermore, the subsequent marriage of two of the Carey family to Jewish women refugees was described to me as ‘expiation’. The family member is adamant that it is better that the full truth is known than concealed and supports the release of documents on the episode.
Returning to our main theme, an examination of the many names on the list reveals a substantial number of surnames commonly used in the Anglo-Jewish community, which lends credence to the suspicion that there were at least some other British Jewish deportees from the Channel Islands who have not been previously recognised and it is possible they were selected on the basis of names thought to be Jewish. We do know, that after the deportations, solicitors in charge of some of the property left behind, found that their clients were being judged by the Channel Islands authorities, to be ‘Jewish’ purely on their name. To counter this, they resorted to saying their clients attended, ‘social functions organised by the Church of England’. Documents show that the Treasury of the
States of Guernsey, government were offered a 10% commission of any ‘Jewish enterprises’ seized by the Germans, exposing a potential financial motive.
There are many Anglicised Jewish names on the lists, which were commonly used by the Jewish community, in the 19th and 20th centuries and can be evidenced in Jewish communal records. Many
middle-class and upper-class English Jews Anglicised their names to help assimilate and avoid prejudice and persecution. The serious anti-German riots in World War I, which led to attacks on
Germans Jews, encouraged Jews with German sounding names, to change them to something more ‘patriotic’ and English. However, it is important to caveat this with the observation that many of
these names are also used by non-Jews and additional family research would be needed to make firm identifications and many of the names may have no Jewish ancestry at all.
It is likely that any British Jews, or those of Jewish ancestry, who did not take the wise precaution of evacuating to the British mainland, but remained resident in the Channel Islands, were not so naïve
as to give away their possible Jewish status to the authorities. Of course, it must be remembered that the Germans had their own definition of Jewish status and many whom received a knock on their door at dawn by the Gestapo, either did not know that they were ‘Jewish’, or did not regard
themselves as Jewish. The one thing that may well have saved ‘Jews’ hiding their identities on the Channel Islands is that both the Channel Islands authorities and the Germans did not have the access
to the records that they usually used in occupied countries to track down Jews.
The following list of names on the deportation lists are all names that correspond to verified Jewish surnames in UK Jewish genealogical databases and might indicate Channel Islands’ families with
Jewish ancestry, but further work will be necessary to prove which, if any, have Jewish ancestry.
Names such as Magnus, Sweetman, Cowan, Davies, Nicholson, Benjamin, Harris, Barnett, Bennet, Firmin, White, Fish, Secker, Ross, Webb, Simmons, Stastny, Savage, Gould, Cass, Jewell, Lawton,
Goldie, Searle, Lang, Howe, Young, Phillips, Tucker, Kemp, Howard, Cowell, Salmon, Lyons, Lewis, Webber, Waghorn, Rubens, Green, Collins, Jacobs, are documented Anglicised Jewish names.
Firmer Channel Islands connections can be made in the case of the names of Phillips and Jacobs, as they can also be seen on headstones at the Westmount Jewish Cemetery on Jersey. The Howard name, which appears on the lists, is an elite Jewish name associated with the Channel Islands.
Sir John Howard was one of the most notable Victorian Jewish engineers, who is best known for financing the Brighton Pier (May 1899), worked in the Channel Island and was responsible for setting
up a tram project in Guernsey (1879) and one of his daughters married into the Phillips family and his half-brother was a Barnett (another surname on the list).
My research shows that some of the assimilated members of the Jewish elite, the ‘Cousinhood’, had proven links with the Channel Islands, including members of the eminent Barrow – Lousada families.
For example, a son of Ann Barrow, Robert Lawrie, died on Jersey in 1856, and another member of the extended family, James Gutteres, died in 1900 on Jersey. Charlotte Butler Pereira (married
name, Veysie) lived on Guernsey, in the 1870s and 80s. Research by Oxford University now shows that many of these families often retained Jewish identities for two to three generations, even if not
visibly Jewish in anyway, frequently sought to rescue family relatives from the Holocaust. This group, if Jewish were more likely to be ‘semi-detached’, or fully assimilated members of the Jewish
community, not affiliating to the local small Jewish community. It must be noted that a Jewish identity is not restricted to a religious identity, or those attending synagogue and some commentators on events on the Channel Islands misunderstand the complexity of Jewish identities.
There are also a number of Germanic names, in the lists, in common use by Jews, such as Stern; Schaw, Snell, Opie, Bachmann, Schutz, Finkelstein. Some names, such as Stern, are well-known
Jewish names (Lord Stern). Of course, (Max) Finkelstein had an unmistakable Jewish name and was aforeign-born Jew who survived deportation to concentration camps.
According to the sworn affidavits, taken from John Leale, the President of the States of Guernsey from 30 December, 1940 and from the Bailiff of Guernsey, Victor Carey, as well as others, events on
Guernsey unfolded in similar fashion to those on Jersey. On 15 September, 1942, Victor Carey, who was the Bailiff of Guernsey from 1935 to 1946, was sent a letter from Colonel Knackfuss, the
Kommandant of FK 515 (which administered the civilians of the Channel Islands) concerning the order for imminent deportation of British subjects from Guernsey. The order of deportation issued
to the States of Guernsey stated that the deportation would include: ‘All persons not having their permanent residence in the Channel Islands, all male persons from 16 - 70 years of age not born in
the Islands and are of English Nationality together with their families.
This prompted an immediate meeting of the leaders of Guernsey amongst themselves and then with the local leader of the Feldkommandantur, Dr. Brosch, to discuss the deportations. Dr. Brosch who was described as, ‘of a neurotic temperament and was very excited. All through the deportation he was of a highly strung disposition’. One imagines that his excitation may have been promoted in part by the receipt of a direct order from Hitler. Subsequent to the meeting, the States of Guernsey prepared a deportation list, ‘at the order of Dr Brosch’.
The first Guernsey deportation was scheduled for 21 September, 1942 and the deportation order was stated by Brosch to have come from & a very high authority & and could not be altered. No details were forthcoming as to where the deportees would go, or the situation in which they would be held.
The Guernsey authorities decided not to resign and stand aside, as & there would be chaos and confusion and the evacuees would suffer unnecessarily & they claimed that they cooperated with the Germans to, & soften the blow for those who had to go and to enable the deportations to go smoothly’ and that they removed people from the list who were food producers, or people ‘in important positions’.
The first group of deportees were divided into two to travel in two shops, the ‘Robert Muller’ (a cargo vessel) and ‘La France’ and a medical examination (in reality a classic Nazi, ‘medical selection’)
were carried out by German doctors to check whether or not deportees &,could stand the journey, but this was in reality only intended to remove people from the transport who might otherwise die in transit. It did not prevent the deportation of terminally ill islanders, such as Thomas Amy of Jersey, who had a terrible cancer of the mouth. Amy was eventually allowed to return from Laufen camp, but due to his terminal condition, suffered terribly, but stoically, on his journey back, as he
was denied medical treatment because he was no longer an official prisoner and died shortly after his return. The final date for the first deportation was set for 21 September and the Guernsey
authorities complained that the ship, the ‘Robert Muller’, was not a fit ship for a passenger journey and that the passengers would only have seats on loose forms in the hold of the ship, which would be dangerous in heavy weather and it lacked toilets. The Germans eventually decided to substitute the Robert Muller with the ‘Minotaur’.
What the authorities did not make clear in their affidavits, was that the Robert Muller was in fact one of the most notorious slave ships used by the Germans in the Channel Islands and was later used
by the SS to bring their own prisoners over to Alderney. Captain Pantcheff reported that the two small holds of 14 x 10m and 10 x 19 m, only left 2.5m cubic airspace for each SS prisoner, when the
holds were packed with c. 500 prisoners. The ships that the deportees did sail in were little better than the Robert Muller, as described earlier.
The departure on the 21st was delayed by bad weather, with the deportees kept on board all night in ‘miserable’ conditions. They were allowed back on shore the next morning, until the deportation
sailings eventually took place on 26th and 28th September. On arrival in France the deportees were sent on a three-day journey to the camps in second class train carriages, not cattle trucks.
On 27 January, 1943, the States of Guernsey heard that a new deportation would take place and the next day notices to report for medical examination were sent out to the new batch of deportees.
The Guernsey authorities claimed that the deportees for this next convoy were selected by the Germans for political reasons, comprising ex-officers, and those who had ‘fallen foul of the German
authorities’ and that others were chosen because, their absence from the island was preferable to their presence from a German point of view. All of these deportees had a special coded annotation
on their card inviting them for their medical examinations, stating &,Arrangements will be made so that you will not have to wait , Leale also added that, ‘the wives and children of certain Policemen
who were undergoing imprisonment on the Continent, also received the orders’. It seems that the ‘certain policemen’ were in probably the nine constables who had been tried and sentenced to hard
labour, by the Royal Court in Jersey (not the Germans), after being publicly denounced in a most vicious and vitriolic form by his colleague, the Bailiff Victor Carey, for the & crime & of having stolen
supplies from the Germans, in June, 1942. Given the huge personal animus expressed by Carey against this group of policemen, it might be suspected that there was a personal and vindictive
element in deporting the wives and children that did not necessarily emanate from the Germans?
Leale’s reference to certain persons, whose ‘absence’ would be ‘preferable, from a German point of
view & could well be a coded reference to the deportation of Jews in this convoy, whom the States had sought out and given up to the Germans. Their names (Still, Finkelstein, and Lloyd) are listed
together, indicating that an existing list of Jews for deportation was dropped into the deportation list to create the impression that they had only been selected because they were British born citizens,
not because they were Jews. Leale does not directly admit to Haddock that Jews were deported, in this group? The indifference of the local Channel Islands authorities to the fate of the local Jews is
likely to come from general British anti-Semitism of the period, as well as the near universal casual anti-Semitism of the elite classes in particular. It did not seem to cross Leale’s mind that there was no legitimate distinction between rights of British Jewish citizens and other British citizens, nor did he, or any of the others (as far as we know) question, ‘the discrimination in favour of British born
subjects over British born Jewish subjects?’ and how they might protest to same to the Germans. War-time surveys of the British population revealed widespread anti-Semitism and sections of
government, such as the Foreign Office, were virtually solid anti-Jewish blocs. Leale’s own character was questioned in April, 1944, in an MI19 intelligence assessment, which took a dim view of him,
stating, that John Leale was, & generally thought to be an evil influence in the island. Is considered pro-German. ... Lives well and far above the ordinary rations.
There are some grounds for suspicion that the States of Guernsey were not neutral in the selection of these deportees. A history of the deportation camps, at Biberach, states that, ‘Biberach becomes
an internment camp for people mainly from Guernsey. These are families with children or elderly people who have taken up residence in the Channel Islands, British conscientious objectors and pacifists.’ The question needs to be asked, if, firstly, whether the pacifists and conscientious objectors in Biberach had been sent from the Channel Islands (as implied) and secondly, if in fact they been selected for deportation by the British Channel Islands officials, not the Germans, and in what numbers?
Hitler’s ‘Black Book’ (‘Sonderfahndungsliste GB’), shows that the Germans only had a limited interest
in pacifists and conscientious objectors, except where they agitated against Germany.
They only listed Karl Ammer (a Communist) on Jersey, for immediate arrest, in the event of a German invasion
of the British Isles. In total the Black Book only listed 8 British ‘pacifists’ and one conscientious objector, so why did so many ‘pacifists’ and ‘conscientious objectors’ end up at Biberach and did they originate from the Channel Islands?
In February 1943, the second wave of deportations left from Guernsey. Some 201 British subjects, were deported following the commando raid on Sark, in October, 1943. As one of the deportations
ships, left St Peter Port, on 12 February, 1943, some deportees & stood on deck and sang, ‘there will
always be an England. Another deportation followed soon after, on the 28 February, mainly of those who had not been well-enough to go on the 12th . The deportations of February, 1943 included
3 Jews from Guernsey and five from Jersey, but they survived the War, even though they were sent to Biberach and Laufen, and Buchenwald concentration camps. News of the deportations were
supressed on the mainland by the British Government and some details of an answer to a parliamentary question on 21 January, 1943 was kept from the public, but acknowledged that 800 had been deported from Guernsey.
An important part of the deportations was the deportation of ex-British military officers, who were seen as a potential threat by the Germans. In the affidavits, the representatives from the States of
Guernsey said that far fewer ex-officers had been deported from Jersey than Guernsey. This was because General Muller in Guernsey was & much more stringent & in his selection than General von
Schmettow in Jersey, who used more lenient criteria and only deported officers who had previously held a regular commission, whereas most ex-military personnel were sent from Guernsey. The affidavit of Duret Aubin, the Attorney General for Jersey, provides evidence that the lenience shown in Jersey was a result of him resisting the Germans in handing over a list of ex-officers and insisting on strict criterion of selection, showing how administrative resistance against the Germans could be successful.
The deportees from Jersey and Guernsey were sent to a variety of camps. There were transit camps at Compiègne in France and another camp at Dorsten in the Ruhr. Final destinations included the
camps at Biberach (or ‘Lindele Camp’) in southern Germany, which was a former military barracks converted into a German ‘show camp’ (where never-the-less, at least 156 Russian prisoners died in its previous concentration camp phase) and Laufen (for unmarried men) as well as Wurzach (which was used for families). Conditions in the camps were onerous. Inmates were not required to work and the camps were run by the Army, or the Police, not the SS, but the prisoners were given
management of day-to-day life in the camp. The diet was meagre, but the receipt of Red Cross parcels helped keep the hostages on the right side of starvation. The prisoners were free to create some semblance of normality and were allowed some correspondence. The, damp, cold and general conditions and disease led to some deaths that might not have occurred otherwise. However, a significant proportion of the deaths included names identified earlier as potential Jewish names. At
Biberach; A. Nathan, died and in Laufen; E. Soloman, A. Stern, A. Weismann succumbed, as well as R. Gould and L.A. Harris, at Wurzach. This raises a suspicion that they might have been victimised that
they may have been suspected of being Jewish, and more Jews were killed as a result of the Channel Islands deportations, but this needs additional research?
The camps were eventually liberated by the Allies by April and May, 1945. Prisoners were repatriated to England in the first instance, rather than to the Channel Islands, which were in a bad way. Some 45+ of the deportees are stated to have died during their incarceration, but it is unclear if the British Government ever prepared an official reconciliation lists to list the deportees and accurately determine their fates, though in the issue of compensation claims in 1964, British officials referred to their undisclosed ‘1945 records’ which might have included details of the returnees? The age standardised death rate for the UK population, in 1945, was 2080.5 per 100,000, so the expected death-rate for 2,300 resident British citizens would have been expected to be a minimum
of 47.8 death in one year, so there must be an element of surprise if the death rates of British subjects held in onerous prison camps conditions, with poor nutrition and shelter, for 2-3 years should be no worse than the British population at home, in their own beds and with a healthy diet?
In summary, this was a deeply shameful episode in British history, with Channel Islands officials directly (and some willingly) participating in the illegal deportation of foreign Jews, British Jewish citizens and other British citizens, to uncertain fates in the camps of the Germans. The files at Kew show that British Government understood that the deportation was a war crime against British civilians and investigated it as such. It seems that the investigators thought they could readily establish what German orders were given for the deportation, the chain of command along which the orders were communicated, and by whom. It can be presumed that they were unpleasantly surprised to discover the extent to which the Germans had infiltrated the civil government of the
islands and that the Channel Island officials, acting in their official capacity, along with British Policemen, were not just material witnesses, but could readily be placed into the Organogram and execution of the crime, effectively working with the Germans, at the end of the chain of command.
Furthermore, their actions rested on German orders which had been previously ratified and placed directly as parallel orders into Channel Islands law by the States of Jersey and Guernsey and made in
the name of the Crown. The Channel Islands officials also regarded it as their solemn ‘duty’ to carry- out these laws.
If any case against the officials of the States of Guernsey and Jersey had come to trial, the Channel Islands defendants could have caused significant embarrassment as they might have claimed that
they were acting lawfully and according to ‘British’ law. The deportation of Jews both before and during the main deportation of British subjects rested on Channel Islands law, particularly, ‘The Third Order’, registered in the Royal Courts of Guernsey on 17 June 1941 and of Jersey on 31 May 1941 as Regulation and Order No 307, redefined those persons considered to be Jewish as well as ordinances requiring the registration of British nationals and ‘aliens’.
As to the culpability of the main British participants, they assisted German crimes, which led to the deaths of some of the deportees, by providing administrative support, legal and legislative support,
They were actively involved in the process of identification and selection of victims, the physical creation of deportation lists, helping to serve deportation notices and then facilitating their loading
onto deportation transports, as well as the administration of properties belonging to the deportees.
Under the rubric of the current regime of war-crimes prosecutions in Germany, they would have been readily prosecutable as ancillaries to war-crimes. Currently the ‘typist of Stutthof’, Irmgard Furchner, is being prosecuted for just working in the office of the Commandant of Stuffhof concentration camp, where her secretarial activities are alleged to have contributed to the systematic killing of prisoners.
There was also the difficult issue with the loss of property by the deportees. Many deportees complained that they lost some, or all of their property and could not reclaim it after the War. One of the affidavits shows that the States of Jersey issued multiple powers of attorney to enable the property of deportees to be looked after, and it appears that the States of Jersey and Guernsey may have had obligations to protect such properties? It is germane to ask, who profited from the
property of the deportees, which was never returned - the amount is likely to have been significant?
In the case of the disposal of Jewish concerns, the States were offered a 10% commission by the Germans.
Former internment camp deportees complained that they were also shut-out from claiming compensation for their deportation by the Government who left them out of negotiations for
compensation with the Germans in 1964, as they were deemed ineligible because they were not classed as ‘victims’ of Nazi persecution and were not in ‘concentration camps’. The deportees were
consistently described as being ‘evacuees’, by the Germans, Channel Islands and British authorities, not as the ‘deportees’ and victims they really were. It is hard to think why the deportees, being
summarily deprived of liberty, family life, property, possessions and the future that they had planned, might not have just cause to consider theat they were victims. This was especially so for especially so for the number who lost their lives as well? This semantic distinction between ‘evacuees’ and ‘deportees’, had great consequence to the victims, as the term ‘evacuation’ blocked access to a hearing of their stories and the receipt of justice.
The British Government may well have judged that the public were not prepared for the revelation that ‘British’ officials had participated in the deportation of British Jews in collaboration with the Nazis. Nor, perhaps, were they ready for the dark preview as to what may well have happened, if the Germans had invaded the British mainland. The Channel Islands show that the likely outcome of an invasion of the British mainland, was not the Churchillian, ‘we will fight them on the beaches’, but
rather the craven capitulation and collaboration by many and mass imprisonment and deportation.
If the truth had got out, the events in the Channel Islands could have been fatal to any received notion of British exceptionalism.
In reality, it is not a surprise the government of the Channel Islands did not ‘do better’.
The Nazis were adept in deeply infiltrating the civic structures of occupied states and compromising and manipulating leaders cooperating with them, to help ‘protect’ or ‘buffer’ their nationals. Since they
had succeeded in compromising modern nation states such as France and Holland, the weakness of the semi-feudal government of the Channel Islands made it almost impossible that they should have
been able to do better. The reform of the government of the Channel Islands post-war indicates that the British realised that weak governance had some responsibility in the events of the
Occupation and it is said that they feared a post-war socialist or even communist rising if there was no reform.
The States of Guernsey and Jersey stand condemned by the fact that they generally failed to exercise administrative resistance to the Nazi occupiers, particularly when they ‘first came for the Jews’ (to paraphrase Niemöller). This set an evil precedent when some push-back at this stage against the Germans could altered the ultimate course of events as they were wary of the danger of unrest or even an uprising. The positive example of Duret Aubin, protecting retired military officers, shows
that there were effective forms of administrative resistance that should have at least been attempted. The Channel Islands authorities only drew a line in the sand and effectively resisted the
Germans, when the Germans wanted to take steps against the Free Masons (who included the island elite).
It might be the case that the failure of the British to prosecute the exceptional war criminals on Alderney and to cover-up events there, was ultimately in order to avoid the shameful deportation of British subjects become public knowledge on the mainland as well as to avoid the obvious and shameful conclusion that the British Government, by abandoning the Channel Islands to the Germans, had made a catastrophic error of judgement. It is hoped that the British Government will
finally make a full disclosure on all these matters, with the release of documents in January, 2022.
Written by Marcus Roberts.
In 2022 this campaign asked United Kingdom Government by a tabled
Question, at the Westminster Parliament if UK had a plans for Remembrance for the 2,300 and answer being "None".
This year is 80th Anniversary of the Deportations.