ARTICLE -Jersey's Quiet Change to Include Slave Labour in the Annual Holocaust Remembrance.
Updated: Jan 23
The Germans brought a vast amount of Slave Labour to the Occupation of Channel Islands during WW2 to build fortifications and more.
We had a journalist say to us over the phone. "This about Alderney"
This is about Jersey and very much so.
The Occupation of Channel Islands is interrelated, and it was horrific period, that should be remembered, and our "Ethos of Universal Remembrance" for all Victims, guides our Campaign and goals.
Occupation of Channel Islands is about all Channel Islands and all victims.
If you think Occupation is about one island, how wrong you are!
Victim that wrote letter to Jersey Authorities in 1970s is a starting point.
He was moved to Alderney, but forced to Open Jersey War Tunnels.
( German Military Underground Hospital ) but held at FORT REGENT.
The Slave Labour Remembrance is about all the Islands.
Letter from a Victim that been forced to work on German Underground Hospital who was held at Fort Regent and luckily survived, and returned to Jersey in 1970s, then pointed out the Jersey Authorities that Remembrance of what happened being WRONG!
We have known for a long time, are many issues about Occupation Remembrance. for Jersey and other Channel Islands. We noted that the Lighthouse Memorial that's dedicated to the Jersey 21 and the core of Jersey Holocaust Remembrance yearly in January and soon picked up that something was not correct as one Islanders Name was removed and became 21 and not 22.
Today the 22nd Islander removed has not any formal Remembrance.
That person being Walter Dauny .
We decided to look at the Ceremony that takes place at Lighthouse memorial annually, which is Jersey Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony site.
We looked at official announcements every year for Jersey Holocaust Remembrance that takes place in January. So realised more than one Islander that gone missing?
We noticed not any Reference to Jewish Suffering during Occupation, but Slave Labour also missing??
We decided to write two letters .One to HMD UK and to Jersey Assembly Members,
also being open to public to read. Remembrance is a public matter.
Campaign placed a public letter online and wrote to Jersey Assembly members.
That public letter can be found here.
With the help of Channel Islands leading Historian about Occupation, Marcus Roberts we sent a VERY DETAILED LETTER to Olivia Marks-Woldman who is head of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Jersey has own local HMD committee.
This is our letter sent
JOINT OPEN LETTER
Dear Olivia Marks-Woldman OBE RE: HMD Jersey - Jersey Government Official Holocaust Memorial Day and Missing Jewish and other Victim Groups from the Official Commemoration. (and to those whom it may concern), We would jointly like to draw your attention to current configuration of the annual Jersey Holocaust Memorial Day event and what we perceive to be vital omissions from local commemoration as well as on-site memorialisation. The Jersey HMD does not include or commemorate local Jewish victims of the Holocaust, from the period of German Occupation, as well as other victim groups brought to Jersey, who suffered in similar measure too. The annual HMD ceremony which takes place at the Lighthouse Memorial is "coincidentally" at the precise location in harbour used to bring Jewish and other slave labour to and from Jersey, as well as being the key transhipment hub for movement of the Slave labour around the islands and to France. There are no references to any of this on the current memorial and in the current Jersey HMD and Memorial is structured around the 21 Islanders who died after deportation to German camps. We understand that the Jersey January 2023 commemoration will be as stated on the Jersey HMD web-site. This states the official commemoration will be to remember Holocaust in general as well as other genocides, but with a local focus on commemorating the ‘dozens of islanders’, who were deported to German Prisons and Camps, with particular reference to the fate of 21 islanders whom lost their lives in German camps, because they had resisted the Germans (one of these, June Sinclair, is listed as a ‘half-Jewish orphan’ from London). While we note and applaud the importance and the admirable spirit of the event, in acknowledging local resistance against Nazi tyranny, it is important to specify the groups missing from commemoration and whom are equally worthy of honour and remembrance. These omitted groups also have important local sites of memory associated with them and are as follows: 1) The 12 Jersey resident Jews, of whom 5 were deported to German camps, but survived their deportation. The deportations of these and other islanders were investigated as a German war crime’ by British investigators. 2) A group of Polish, Czecho-Slovak and Alsatian Jews, who had been arrested in the Toulouse area and brought to Jersey and who were held prisoner from 1941, in ‘Lager Ehrembrestein’, a slave labour camp in the ditch at Fort Regent, Jersey. They worked on the construction of the Jersey War tunnels for two years. An official letter, sent to the War Tunnels in 1970, by a former Jewish prisoner, Pascal Pomar, recalled how they (along with the Spanish Republicans) were the first constructors and victims, of the Ho8, the ‘Jersey War Tunnels’. In 1943 they were sent to Lager Norderney, the SS camp for Jews on Alderney, from 1943-44. While the Jersey war Tunnels have now included most of the Russian and non-Russian prisoner groups in its interpretation, the Jewish victims are still omitted, even though the War Tunnels must constitute an important Holocaust ‘site of memory’. 3) The current commemoration fails to include the many other slave labourers brought to Jersey, mistreated and some worked to death. The displays at the War Tunnels acknowledges many of these groups, including the Spanish Republicans, though the Russians appeared to have been a principal victim group and endured some of the greatest brutality. The former Strangers’ Cemetery had 73 Russian graves, out of 116 slave-worker burials, though this can only be regarded as a minimum indicator of the actual number of deaths. We note that North Africans were also brought to Jersey and some of the victims were Algerian Muslims – as can be seen in photographs of the headstones at the former Strangers’ Cemetery. 4) The HMD fails to commemorate the use of Fort Regent, not only as a slave labour camp for Jews, but also as an important transit camp, for Jewish prisoners and other slave workers, with St Helier as the key transit and deportation port in the Channel Islands throughout the German Occupation. For example, the Pantcheff Report discloses that in June 1944, as the Allies advanced, the Germans sought to evacuate slave labourers from the islands, from Alderney, via Guernsey and then finally from Jersey, with prisoners often being held at Fort Regent operating as a transit camp, before being sent via St. Malo, on towards Germany and an uncertain fate, but likely to be killed on route, or ‘euthanised’ in a German camp. There were at least 11 sailings in June, 1944, but because of weather conditions and advancement of Allied forces in Normandy many prisoners remained at Fort Regent. 5) The Commemoration should include specific and special remembrance of the deaths of 250 French Jews, in the torpedoing of the slave ship, Le Minotaure, just after its departure from St Helier, as part of the deportations noted above. On 3 July, 1944, the slave ship, Le Minotaure, left St Helier, in a convoy and exactly four hours later, when off St Malo, it was attacked by British MTBs and up to 250 French Jews were killed out of the 500 slaves as torpedoes struck the cramped holds onboard. They have no memorial, in the Channel Islands, or France (as far as we can ascertain) and since their final departure point was also Jersey, and the British forces were the cause of their deaths, their inclusion at this location, in official commemoration is "urgently merited." All of these groups were victims of Nazi persecution, caught in the deadly mechanism of the Holocaust and the Slave Labour system, at ‘Bauleitung Julius’ and most either understood that if they could not work, they would die, or were told that it was not intended that they would survive their captivity. Within the OT system, Russians and Spanish communists, Polish and Czech conscripts, partisans, convicts (German soldiers and foreign civilians) miscellaneous politically hostile elements (foreign), workers considered intractable,homosexuals, Jews, part-Jews and state-loss individuals had the lowest status and no protections from death. All should be included in the official Jersey HMD remembrance. We would urge you to reconsider the structure of the planned HMD on Jersey to include both the forgotten Jewish victims on Jersey and other slave laborers, as well as all those who passed through Jersey as a transit hub, in the formal commemorations and to ensure that they are appropriately referenced on the relevant HMD web-sites. The official Government report, ‘Britain’s Promise to Remember - The Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission Report (2015)’, makes it clear that the inclusion of these groups in indubitably mandated. ‘The Commission concluded that it would be an injustice to the memory of those other victims not to reflect upon their tragic experiences too. Furthermore, without in anyway impinging on the centrality of the Holocaust in the Commission’s recommendations, understanding of the Holocaust can be strengthened further by learning about the fate of other victims of Nazi persecution.’ We would also request that the Jersey Government website is updated with Jersey & Holocaust history. We are sure the public would want the history of Jewish People to be correctly represented when marking Holocaust Remembrance Day and not forgetting all those other groups who suffered alongside them. This chimes with our shared principal of universal remembrance in the Channel Islands and we urge both inclusion of the missing groups in the local HMD and that the Jersey Government looks urgently into updating memorials, and potentially providing additional one, as well as improving historical interpretation at the ‘Sites of Memory’ described, at the Harbour and Fort Regent in particular. During the German Occupation, Islanders resisted the Germans, by befriending the otherwise friendless and stateless slave labourers, through individual acts of kindness, and thereby acknowledged their common humanity. The inclusion of the missing groups into the Jersey HMD commemoration today would aptly remember this resistance through kindness and declare this common humanity to the World today with the people of Jersey the guardians of their memory. Yours sincerely, Marcus Roberts. (Director JTrails, the National Anglo-Jewish Heritage Trail, part of the Europe Route of Jewish Heritage, a registered UK Charity)Kev South. Campaign Lead of Channel Islands WW2 Remembrance Campaign. Campaign for Universal Remembrance.
Letter ends and next timeline.
Our letter being forwarded to local Jersey HMD committee who unhappy that our
letter is sent to the UK organisation . Do read.
Above the sudden change to include Slave Labour.
Below SLAVE LABOUR missing from Annual Event planned for 2023?
Slave Labour Remembrance had been missing for sometime.
Below is the plan for 2023 Ceremony before Christmas - All changed!
Still much to bring to publics attention as still issues with Holocaust Remembrance
and much to to Achieve for the victims even today in 2023.
Still omissions to Occupation Remembrance.
The Work of the Channel Islands WW2 Remembrance Campaign continues.
In 2023 Michael Pinto-Duschinsky the leading Holocaust survivor and equally known for his Holocaust work, read the Victims letter back of 1970'S sent to the Jersey Authorities and decides to join our Campaign.
Michael Pinto-Duschinsky says this
" From my reading of events in the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands, it strikes me that the history comprises two parts: first, the experiences of regular inhabitants and their families and, second, the experiences and fates of slave labourers used to prepare fortifications and other buildings and structures. Among the latter we know that hundreds died but probably many more. "
We would like to thank Macus Roberts, who today is our Senior Advisor to Channel Islands WW2 Remembrance Campaign.