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24 September 2014
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You are in Jersey > My Island > History > Occupation Life
SEE ALSO
Occupation memories
Islanders who lived through the Occupation talk about the following topics:
Britain's decision not to defend Jersey
The German soldiers
Jerrybags
Local informants
Interception of letters by post office workers

Impending starvation and the arrival of the SS Vega

In the beginning
Continuous war
Peace - but not for long
Growth of new trades
German Occupation
Occupation life
Occupation food   
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OCCUPATION LIFE
The Gun Tower at Les Landes
The Gun Tower at Les Landes

The Germans took over the government and the courts, and new laws began to be passed - a register of the island's Jews would be created, and all Jewish businesses had to display a yellow notice.

In June 1942, the Germans commanded that all wirelesses be handed in. In September 1942, it was announced that all British-born islanders would be deported to Germany - 1,200 people in all.

For people who became friendly with Germans, there was trouble - other islanders didn't think they could trust those who mixed with the enemy.

Women who spent time with the soldiers were known as 'Jerry-Bags' and were shunned. Some islanders worked for the Germans, either as plumbers and electricians or as general labourers. They were lured by high wages and extra rations.

Informants

Dozens of letters were sent to the German Field Commander informing on other islanders who were selling or hoarding food, helping escaped slave workers, or listening to the radio.

The post office tried to intercept as many of the letters as they could - steaming them open and destroying them. Letters that got through often led to death or deportation for those that were informed on.

Illicit activities

The islanders began to paint the V-for-Victory symbol on doors and signs around the island. Teenagers also stole from the barracks, hiding weapons and explosives.

Radios were hidden all over the place - in chimneys and piles of manure. Islanders also built their own crystal radios.

There were more than 140 attempts by islanders to escape - but it was extremely dangerous. Nine people drowned, 24 were imprisoned, and one was shot on the beach.

Red Cross relief

By November 1944, the islanders faced starvation. The Germans insisted that it was not their responsibility to feed the islanders, whilst Churchill was determined to let the Germans starve - even if this meant that the islanders starved too.

Eventually an agreement was reached, and in December 1944 the SS Vega arrived in Jersey, with food parcels for every islander. There were none for the Germans, and morale was low.

Liberation

On 8 May 1945, two Royal Navy destroyers arrived in Channel Island waters, and on the 9th May a declaration of unconditional surrender was signed.

The celebrations continued for several days, with people singing and dancing in the streets. But for the islanders who had helped the Germans it was not so joyful. They were attacked by angry crowds and swastikas were painted on their houses.

After the war

After the war ended, Jersey underwent many changes in many areas. In the States, 12 elected senators were added, and the number of deputies was increased to 29.

Educational facilities were greatly expanded, with several secondary and primary schools built. There were also important changes in island law - divorce was legalised in 1949, the Channel Island Court of Appeal was brought into operation in 1964, and a Juvenile Court was created in 1969.

Public utilities were also expanded - mains drainage was extended, new reservoirs and dams were built, and a desalination plant was added. Hospital services were increased and diversified, and more homes were built for the old and infirm.

 

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