Thursday, 27 January 2011

Jersey Under the Swastika - IV The Occupation

Continuing the occasional transcription of Ralph Mollet's account of the Occupation of Jersey, this extract takes us up to the point when the Island was occupied.

"He asked me how long the British had occupied the Island. I replied that we conquered England in 1066. He smiled."

Ralph Mollet's reply to the German Officer is one that, as a schoolboy, I learnt as a commonplace piece of Jersey lore, because of course, Jersey had been part of Normandy. But until fairly recently, I didn't know exactly how substantial that claim was - if it was, for instance, just a claim that Jersey was part of Normandy, and hence as the Normans invaded England, so Jersey was part of that by proxy. In fact, as Rosemary Hampton shows in "A Jersey Family", there were Jersey families who went over to England at the time of the conquest.

In 2005, as part of the local Senatorial elections, there was a referendum on whether Jersey should adopt Central European time. This was rejected by by 72.4% of those who voted. The proposition itself, and most of the arguments, scarcely mentioned the Occupation - I have had a quick skim of the news stories, and there is no mention there of the Occupation in all the main stories and reports. And yet the Island did have Central European Time during the Occupation. During a period when links with England were cut off, and most communication, especially by the German forces, was to Europe, this made a lot of sense, more so than it did recently. The German Officer (Captain Gussek) seems to have been unaware of Jersey following British time, which led to a mix up on times with him meeting the Bailiff.

There was promptly a raft of orders, of which the most significant as far as the Island's governance was concerned, was that the orders would be "registered in the records of the Island of Jersey" and "Offences against the same, saving those punishable under German Military Law, shall be punishable by the Civil Courts". This neatly placed part of the responsibility for compliance with German orders in the hands of the Jersey authorities, and led to what Paul Sanders called "the corrosive character of Nazi rule" where "many administrations that started out with a pristine record became increasingly tainted as they went along with incessant German demands, trapping themselves into logics which they had not foreseen and which offered
no exit.".

A case which exemplifies this is given by Sanders:

While investigating a robbery in late May 1943 the St Saviour's honorary police received information from neighbours that a James Davey had one or more wireless sets at his residence. And indeed, when they followed up this information, they discovered three wireless sets, two of which were the property of a second man, Frederick Page..... The police now faced the dilemma of either submitting a report which might lead to the prosecution of a fellow islander or running the risk of a denunciation to the Germans that the island police were defying their orders; the likelihood of which was increased by the fact that the police investigations emerged from a neighbour's quarrel and that the discovery of the wireless sets was known and generally talked about. The dilemma was aggravated by the fact that since the passing of an 'Order for the Protection of the Occupying Authorities [sic]', on 18 December 1942, the authorities were obliged - under threat of punishment - to signal to the Germans all information which came to their attention bearing a relation to infractions of German orders.(1)

This was the dark side of the Occupation, that the forces of justice were co-opted into working with the Germans. The notion, as expressed in the Jersey Law Review of 2004, that the Islands "are entitled to take pride in legal systems which have an unbroken history of at least 800 years"(1) airbrushes out these five dark years, when the legal systems were twisted and bound under the Nazi yoke.

Jersey Under The Swastika by Ralph Mollet

When a German airman saw the signs of surrender, he landed at the air port, and was told that the Island was ready to comply with the terms offered, and at 3.30 p.m. another plane landed, and asked for the Bailiff to meet a certain number of planes at 4.30 p.m.

The Bailiff, the Attorney-General, and the Government Secretary met the planes at the air port. The German Commander Obernitz was in charge. When the Bailiff; returned to his chambers, he said that a German officer would arrive at the chambers at to a.m. the next day.

The Occupying Force, all air borne, of about 100 men was under the command of Hauptmann Gussek. The Attorney - General then conducted the officers to the Post Office Instrument Room (communication with England had been cut off at 8.15 a.m.), and to the Town Hall (to be occupied as the Military Headquarters), and obtained billets for the men at various hotels.

The day passed without alarms, and was a relief, as the tension during the last few days had been very great, almost equal to the days of the panic of the previous week

Tuesday, July 2nd. The white flag was flying on all public buildings and the majority of houses throughout the Island, and early in the morning troops with machine guns were already posted at various parts of the town.

When I arrived in the Square at 9 a.m. I saw a German officer with a civilian (a local German resident, C. Specker) walking up and down the Square. A resident came up, and told me that the German officer was looking for the Bailiff. I made myself known to this officer Captain Gussek, through his interpreter. The Captain saluted and shook hands. I said that the Bailiff expected him at 10 o'clock. He replied that it was already 10 a.m., Central European Time. I at once conducted him to the Bailiff's chambers; my feelings and thoughts were difficult to describe. He asked me how long the British had occupied the Island. I replied that we conquered England in 1066. He smiled. He produced to me an ordnance map of Jersey, and asked where he could obtain similar maps. I sent the porter out to purchase some; he said he would pay for them. The Bailiff arrived shortly afterwards, and together with the Attorney-General, the Government Secretary, and some other officials, conferred with Capt. Gussek. The Bailiff then came out and said in a loud voice: "Haul down the Flag of Surrender." I passed this on to the States Engineer and to the houses situated in the vicinity, and in a short time the flags were hauled down. A German Flag was hoisted at the Fort Regent Signal Post for one day, and then it was flown at the Albert Pier Head permanently, as well as at the Town Hall; no flag was flown at the Court House.

The following orders were then issued by Capt. Gussek:

1 All inhabitants must be indoors by 11 p.m. and must not leave their homes before 5 a.m.
2. We will respect the population of Jersey; but, should anyone attempt to cause the least trouble, serious measures will .be taken.
3. All orders given by the Military Authority are to be strictly obeyed.
4. All spirits must be locked up immediately, and no spirits may be supplied, obtained, or consumed henceforth. This prohibition does not apply to stocks in private houses.
5. No person shall enter the Aerodrome at St. Peter.
6. All Rifles, Airguns, Revolvers, Daggers, Sporting Guns, and all other Weapons whatsoever, except Souvenirs, must, together with all Ammunition, be delivered at the Town Arsenal by 12 (noon) tomorrow, July 3rd.
7. All British Sailors, Airmen, and Soldiers on leave, including Officers, in this Island must report at the Commandant's Office, Town Hall, at 10 a.m. tomorrow, July 3rd.
8. No boat or vessel of any description, including any fishing boat, shall leave the Harbours or any other place where the same is moored, without an Order from the Military Authority, to be obtained at the Commandant's Office, Town Hall. All Boats arriving in Jersey must remain in Harbour until permitted by the Military to leave. The crews will remain on board. The Master will report to the Harbour Master, St. Helier, and will obey his instructions.
9. The Sale of Motor Spirit is prohibited, except for use on Essential Services, such as Doctors' Vehicles, the Delivery of Foodstuffs, and Sanitary Services, where such vehicles are in possession of a permit from the Military Authority to obtain supplies. THE USE OF CARS FOR PRIVATE PURPOSES IS FORBIDDEN.
10. The Black-out Regulations already in force must be obeyed as before.
11. Banks and Shops will be open as before.
12. In order to conform with Central European Time all watches and clocks must be advanced one hour at 11 pm TONIGHT
13. It is forbidden to listen to any Wireless Transmitting Stations, except German and German-Controlled Stations.
14. The raising of Prices of Commodities is forbidden.

The German Commandant of the Island of Jersey
July 2nd, 1940

The next day all members of the British Forces paraded at the Town Hall, nearly all in civilian dress, mostly men who had crossed during the evacuation to see what had become of their relatives, and had been caught here. About ninety gave in their names, and paraded each day, until they were interned in the camp at Grouville, and then sent on to Germany as Prisoners of War on the 27th July. The next few days the population began to settle down, the Bailiff being in daily conference with the Commandant at the Town Hall.

On July the 8th the following Proclamation was issued:

Orders of the Commandant of the German Forces in Occupation of the Bailiwick of Jersey. Dated the 8th day of July, 1940.

1. The German Commandant is in close touch with the Civil Authorities and acknowledges their loyal co-operation.
2. The Civil Government and Courts of the Island will continue to function as heretofore, save that all. Laws, Ordinances, Regulations, and Orders will be submitted to the German Commandant before being enacted.
3. Such legislation as, in the past, required the Sanction of His Britannic Majesty in Council for its validity, shall henceforth be valid on being approved by the German Commandant, and thereafter sanctioned by the Bailiff of Jersey.
4. The Orders of the German Commandant, heretofore, now, and hereafter issued, shall in due course be registered in the records of the Island of Jersey, in order that no person may plead ignorance thereof. Offences against the same, saving those punishable under German Military Law, shall be punishable by the Civil Courts, who shall enact suitable penalties in respect of such offences, with the approval of the German Commandant.
5. Assemblies in Churches and Chapels for the purpose of Divine Worship are permitted. Prayers for the British Royal Family and for the welfare of the British Empire may be said. Church Bells may ring ten minutes before Service. Such Assemblies shall not be made the medium for any propaganda or utterances against the honour or interests of, or offensive to, the German Government or Forces.
6. Cinemas, Concerts, and other Entertainments are permitted, subject to the conditions set out in Order No. 5 above.
7. Prices must not be increased or decreased. Any shopkeeper offending against this order is liable to have his shop closed, and also to pay any fine that may be imposed by the Competent Authorities.
8. The sale and consumption of wines, beer, and cider is permitted in such premises as are licensed; by the Civil Authorities.
9. Holders of Licences for the sale of such intoxicating liquors (wines, beer, or cider) shall take the most rigid precautions for the prevention of drunkenness. If drunkenness takes place on such licensed premises, then without prejudice; to any other civil penalty the Island Police shall and are hereby empowered to close the premises.
10. All traffic between Jersey and Guernsey is prohibited, whether direct or indirect, for the time being (other Regulations will follow).
11. The Rate of Exchange between the Reichsmark and the Pound has been fixed at Eight Marks to the Pound.
12. The Continuance of the privileges granted to the civilian population is dependent upon their good behaviour. Military necessity however may from time to time require the Orders now in force to be made for stringent.

For and on behalf of the German Commandant of the Channel Islands
(Signed) Gussek, Hauptmann, Commandant, Jersey

The first Departmental Order to be signed by the Commandant Gussek was on the 5th July, 1940, and the minutes of the States held that day were also the first to be signed by him.

The following important order was made, as the German Army of Occupation soon began to purchase wines, spirits, cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco, as well as clothing, boots, and shoes, and all sorts of articles from the well-stocked shops of St. Helier. They paid in Reichsmarks.

Order of the Commandant of the German Troops in Occupation in Jersey.


Shopkeepers of the Island of Jersey are notified that I have informed the members of the German Forces in the Island they must not purchase more than
50 Cigarettes or 25 Cigars
1 bottle of Wine or 2 bottles of Beer to take away for their own consumption.
3 Shirts, Collars, and Ties.

Only one suit length of cloth allowed per man. All purchases must be restricted in quantity as above. In the event of a larger quantity being required, an Order will be issued by myself.

No foodstuffs, other than fruit, biscuits, confectionery, may be bought by any soldier.

In case of doubt the matter must be referred to the Commandant, who will give a decision.
Commandant of the Island of Jersey.

The Jersey Chamber of Commerce urges the Trading Community to assist the German Commandant in the strict observance of the Order.
St. Helier, 11th July, 1940

The next day, 12th July, cars were requisitioned by the Air Force and painted grey, preference being given to American makes. On the 13th July a ship arrived from Granville, and this was the commencement of a constant traffic of ships carrying men and material to and from Jersey. Films arrived on the 14th, and postal communication with Guernsey was restored. On the 16th the German Commandant allowed listening in to all stations. On the 17th the German Island Harbour Commandant took over the Harbour Control at the Entry Dues Office; this was later transferred to the Pomme d'Or Hotel.

The Deutsche Inselzeitung was first published on the 22nd July under the editorship of Dr. H. Kindt. It was a daily paper, in German, printed at the office of the Evening Post for the use of the troops in the Island.

The States ordered a census of the population to taken; this was carried out on the 10th August, 1940 and resulted in a total of 41,101.

Capt. Gussek remained in the Island until the 19th September, 1940, when he left for service elsewhere. He was a very successful officer, and earned the respect the inhabitants. He resided at Government House. His civil duties were 'taken over by the Field Command 515, which arrived on the 9th August, 1940. His military duties were taken over by Prince Zu Waldeck, who resided at Thornton Hall. On the 27th September, 1940, Graf von Schmettow was appointed Commander of the Fortress of Jersey, with his office at "Monaco", St. Saviour's Road, transferred later to the Metropole Hotel: Roseville Street : he resided at Government House.

On 23rd July, 1941, the office at the Town Hall was transferred to the Terminus Hotel, Weighbridge, and became the Standortkommandantur, responsible for the billeting of the troops. The troops on their arrival were directed to their billets by the Standortkommandant.


1 comment:

Ole Razzy said...


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