Jersey Missing Remembrance Report
Channel Islands WW2 Remembrance Campaign has commissioned this Report into the missing Victims Remembrance of the Occupation of Jersey during World War Two .
The Report is written in conjunction with Leading Occupation Historian renowned with his work with the Pantcheff Report.
Marcus Roberts, founder and director of JTrails, a heritage group which specialises in Anglo-Jewish history,
Those victims of the Occupation, The remembrance should be ensured.
Those Islanders imprisoned on Alderney that returned to Jersey
and imprisoned in Fort Regent and luckily gained their own freedom before Liberation Day deserve Remembrance.
Those that Protested at great risk about deportation of 2,300 Britain born and living in Islands at Weighbridge deserve remembrance.
Various Groups that today in 2023 still have not gained Remembrance. All Occupation victims deserve Remembrance. ( Equally includes imported Slave Labour )
The Marcus Roberts Commissioned Report.
Jersey has a number of ‘Sites of Memory’, due to its World War 2 history during the German Occupation, but which are often over-looked or not generally known. These relate to slave labour camps associated with the known reported deaths of prisoners, particularly Russians. These include,Lagers Ehrenbreitstein, Udet, Molders, Brinkforth, where the suffering of prisoners is recorded.
There are also slave labour work-sites, such as the Jersey War Tunnels, known cemetery sites, including Mont Abbe, St. Helier, as well as key transit points for slave workers being moved to and from the Island, some to their deaths in Europe.
There were many categories of prisoner sent to Jersey and 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’, the code name for Jersey and most prisoners 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 on Jersey and the Channel Islands, there were 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 were present. The slave worker cemetery includes Dutch, Belgian, and French nations. There was also a North African contingent, with prisoners from Algeria,
Morocco and Tunisia, many of whom were Muslims.
Fort Regent was a slave labour camp called ‘Lager Ehrenbreitstein’ for Jews, Spanish Republicans and then Russians, so it is both a ‘Site of Memory’ and a ‘Holocaust Site of Memory’. The camp was
named in honour of a fortress in Koblenz. The camp was in the ditch of the Fort. It was also as key part of a transit hub for the movement of prisoners and slave labourers, to and from the Channel Islands, via the port at St Helier.
Jewish prisoners and the Spanish Republicans were the first constructors and victims, of the Ho8 or the Jersey War Tunnels. The celebrated local resistance hero, Joe Miere (former curator of the War
Tunnels) stated that Frank Font and Pascal Pomar, were family friends during the War, and both told him that there were about 20 Jewish prisoners at Fort Regent, who had been rounded up by the
Germans in Toulouse, though they were originally from Poland, Czecho-Slovakia and Alsatia. He says they worked first at the German navy bases on the French coast and were then transported from St Malo to Jersey in 1941 and imprisoned at Fort Regent, where they were the first to work on the galleries at the War Tunnels.
Miere names one of this first group of Jews at Fort Regent as Chay Ulrich, born in 1921 at Colmar Alsace and imprisoned at Fort Regent in 1941. He added in his account that the other Alsatian Jews had ended up in Jersey as the result of 120,000 inhabitants of Alsace being expelled by the Germans to the French Free Zone in November, 1940. Many were Jews and then ended up at Toulouse where
they were later arrested by the Germans if they did not have the correct papers.
They were then replaced by the end of 1942 by Russians (actually Russians and Ukrainians). At least one of the Russians was a starving Russian Jewish boy called ‘Yegorka’ who is believed to have died on Jersey, not having come to work one day.
In November, 1942, the Russians were deported to St Malo, from where they were moved a week later to an unknown location in occupied France and suffered a fate unknown. Miere thought that they had been sent to a German concentration camp.
The Russians and Ukrainains in the camps at worksites suffered serious abuse and deaths. The formerly secret Pantcheff Report on war crimes against Russians records the following statement by
Pascal Pomar: ‘While working at Fort Regent, Jersey, 35 Spaniards and Russians came over from La Moye Camp and Alderney. Made to work by the OT police though sick, and sometimes cold water
thrown over then in mid-winter. On one occasion saw Russian beaten to death with a pick handle by
a German O.T. called "Peter ". Half of the rations due to them went to Germans’.
The British list of the dead in Mont Abbe Cemetery, records the official causes of death including
disease (TB), starvation, assault and injuries including fractured skulls and being shot through the
head ‘while attempting to escape’. The majority of the dead at Mont a Abbe cemetery were
exhumed in 1961 and removed to a German War Cemetery in France. 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.
Russian deaths on Jersey were investigated as war crimes by the Allies, after the surrender of the
islands and multiple witness statements taken, though no prosecutions were ever pursued by the authorities.
The Spanish Republicans, including Font and Pomar, were held in the camp at Fort Regent for two years, before being sent on to Alderney and SS camp Norderney, in 1943, to join the French Jews
there who had been deported from Drancy. John Dalmau claims that very few Spanish Republicans
survived in the Channel Islands. It appears they were originally sent to the Channel Islands principally from Le Vernet Camp in Vichy France.
It is also important to remember that German soldiers who resisted Hitler were imprisoned in the island prison and then executed on Jersey with some executions taking place on the Parade Ground at Fort Regent.
The other vital historical aspect of Fort Regent as a Site of Memory, is because it was, along with the port of St Helier, a key transit camp and hub for the transports of slave labourers to, from and around the Channel Islands and it is important to remember that prisoners died in large numbers during transit, from storms, neglect and abuse, or from Allied attack. Elsewhere in Europe, transit hubs and camps have frequently become important sites of memory and museums of deportation, such as at the Caserne Dossin, at Mechelin in Belgium and the Camp Westerbork Memorial Centre in the Netherlands.
A key phase in its use as a transit hub, was in June 1944, as the Allies advanced, the Germans sought to evacuate slave labourers from the islands, from Alderney, via Guernsey and thence to Jersey, with prisoners often being held at Fort Regent operating as a transit camp, before being sent from St Helier, via St Malo, on towards Germany and an uncertain fate, but most likely to be killed on route,
or ‘euthanised’ in a German camp. The ships also carried Islanders, who had been imprisoned on Alderney and some found their liberation on arrival to Jersey. 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 and it is states hundreds were crammed in to the dungeons of Fort Regent.
One of these transports included no less than 7 ships and their escorts. The holds were packed with a human cargo - a mixed international cohort which included OT slave workers, women, civilians, concentration camp inmates and civilian prisoners, who were temporarily off-loaded to Fort Regent, before being re-boarded three days later.
Most tragically, on 3 July, 1944, the slave ship, Le Minotaure, left St Helier in a convoy and exactly four hours later, when off St Malo, was attacked by Canadian MTBs and up to 350 French Jews were
killed out of the 500 slaves onboard, in a torpedo attack and other islanders on the upper decks perished or took to the water. They have no memorial, in the Channel Islands, or France and their inclusion in official commemoration is urgently merited. Island Memorials.
While there are several small memorials on the island, the memorialisation is not complete as individuals and groups have been left out and need to be updated, and it is not necessarily easy for
visitors to find their locations (for example, one is next to a parking bay), though this does not diminish the importance of memorials, such as the Light House Memorial and the slave labour memorial, and the memorial to the British citizens deported to German Camps and their significance.
There is an argument to create one universal memorial, to supplement the piecemeal memorialisation at present and to ensure that memorialisation is up to date.
There is an urgent need for memorialisation at Fort Regent due to its importance in the history of slave labour and the deaths which occurred there as well as to memorialise the important transit /
deportation point at St Helier’s Harbour. The Jersey War Tunnels need to re-instate its previous acknowledgment of Jewish slave workers in the tunnels. There should be a memorial to the Jewish victims of Le Minotaure, who died just 4 hours out from St Helier. ( and all victims )
Memorialisation on Jersey needs to incorporate 1) The 12 Jersey resident Jews, of whom 5 were deported to German camps, but survived their deportation. 2) the Jewish victims of Le Minotaure as
well as the many others who died in transit to and from St Helier 2) The Polish, Czecho-Slovak and Alsatian and Russian Jews brought to the island. 3) The current commemoration fails to include some
of the forced and slave labour groups brought to Jersey 4) German resisters to Hitler, who were executed. 5) There is also a need to remember the fate of the Irish on the islands. Written by Marcus Roberts .
Channel Islands WW2 Remembrance Campaign Conclusion
It was understandable that after the War, given the ordeal which the islanders and authorities had to endure and the desire to resume a normal life as soon as possible, there was a period in which Occupation history was put on the back-burner, while lives were rebuilt and a narrative was adopted that parked some of the more difficult issues of the Occupation.
The understanding of the impact of this period on Occupation Victims Remembrance needs to be understood by the islands decision makers.
Universal memorial, in the Channel Islands for all occupation Victims and their inclusion in official commemoration is urgently merited.
Today the Universal Memorial for all Victims remains absent .
For the victims, for what they all suffered they all deserve Remembrance today.