Jersey Occupation: German book given to Red Cross nurse

Book Image copyright Channel Islands Occupation Society
Image caption The book features water colour paintings of Jersey

A rare book, written in German about Jersey that was presented to a Red Cross nurse in 1945, has been returned to the island.

The book, featuring water colour pictures and black-and-white photographs of Jersey was presented to Sister Gerda by the occupying forces.

The Channel Islands were the only parts of the British Isles to be occupied by Nazi forces in World War Two.

Sister Gerda worked at the St Brelade's Bay Hotel caring for the German forces.

The Channel Islands Occupation Society has obtained the book after being told about it earlier in 2014.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Houses of collaborators were marked with a swastika

The Occupation of Jersey

  • Winston Churchill thought they held no strategic importance for Britain and decided to de-militarise them.
  • Jersey surrendered on 1 July 1940 and German soldiers were swiftly stationed. Islanders had to show their compliance by flying white flags over their houses.
  • Islanders had to live under a curfew, carry ID cards and wirelesses were banned. All British-born islanders were deported to Germany.
  • The D-Day landings in June 1944 came as both a blessing and a curse. Whilst they marked the beginning of the end for the German occupiers who relied on supply lines from the continent, they also meant that food lines were cut.
  • As supplies dwindled, everyone began to starve. However, after negotiation with the Home Office, the Germans allowed the Red Cross' SS Vega to deliver food, saving many of the Islanders' lives.

Read more on the German Occupation of the Channel Islands.

During the occupation the hotel was called Soldatenheim II, an equivalent to the British Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI), which served meals and drinks to soldiers.

The German infantry unit 582, stationed in Jersey, gave Sister Gerda the book when she left Jersey for Alderney in April 1945.

Colin Isherwood, from the Channel Islands Occupation Society, has been examining the book and said little was known about Sister Gerda.

Image copyright CI Occupation Society
Image caption Grateful soldiers gave Sister Gerda the book in thanks for her care
Image copyright CI Occupation Society
Image caption St Brelade Bay Hotel was turned into a refuge for German soldiers
Image caption Colin Isherwood said the book gave an interesting insight into life in the island during the occupation

He said they are not sure why she was going to Alderney but it was probably to look after the soldiers being sent there.

Mr Isherwood said: "This book is dated 29th April, the following day Hitler had committed suicide, it is almost like a completely different war.

"I know it was wartime but it possibly felt like peacetime as there was no action in Jersey."

Image copyright CI Occupation Society
Image caption The book was put together by a German cartographer
Image copyright CI Occupation Society
Image caption There was a feeling of peacetime in Jersey as there was no fighting

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