German Occupation

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German Occupation

No period in the Channel Islands' history has had more written about it than the German Occupation of the islands from 1940 to 1945, during World War Two. This section attempts to bring together all the important elements in this, one of the darkest periods in Jersey's history, from the period before the Germans invaded, when many thousands of islanders were evacuated, to the Liberation and the joyous celebrations of freedom. Read our article summarising the Occupation period and then turn to the individual articles listed below, which provide comprehensive detail of every aspect of the five years that German troops occupied the island.

  • Please note that the swastika icon is used throughout this section, not in any attempt to glorify the actions of the Germans during their occupation of Jersey, but as the recognised symbol of their repressive regime.
  • We should also make clear that we refer throughout this section to the German Occupation, not the Nazi Occupation, as some people now prefer to call it. It has never been known as such in Jersey, by islanders who lived through it, from the day the German military arrived to take over the island. And it is still known as the German Occupation by islanders to day. The reason put forward by those who prefer the use of Nazi to describe those Germans who fought in the Second World War, is that the war was started by a National Socialist Government and that not all Germans were Nazis. On the contrary, all those troops and bureaucrats who occupied and administered the island were Germans, and by no means all were party members. The argument that they did not all want to be where they were is, we believe, irrelevant, because whether supporters of the cause or conscripts following orders, they were first and foremost Germans. And the man who was in charge for most of the Occupation, Graf von Schmettow, made it very clear in post-war interviews that he was not a party member and did not consider himself to be a Nazi

Major subjects

New in 2023, an expanded list of casualties,
military and civilian, and a brief history of
World War Two and Jersey

The beginning

Life in an occupied island

Acts of defiance


The end nears


Picture gallery


From the desolation of the evacuation of islanders before the arrival of the Germans to the deportation of those not born in Jersey to internment camps and eventually the joy of Liberation, our picture gallery covers the full reality of occupation by a foreign power.

Many of the photographs were taken by the Germans themselves, either as personal snapshots or images commissioned for propaganda purposes.

Divided into many categories, our photographs show the Germans at work and the fortifications they built with the aid of slave workers; they show the occupying troops at leisure; they show many aspects of what life was like for the islanders.

Some photographs not included in the main gallery will be found accompanying articles shown in the index on the left



Among the lasting legacies of the German occupation are the fortifications erected around the coast and at other locations. Although some were demolished, many gun emplacements, bunkers, towers and other concrete constructions have remained to this day as a constant reminder of a period otherwise best forgotten. Some are now tourist attractions, some have even been partly restored.



The Channel Islands were liberated a day after the official end of the war in Europe and this joyous event is celebrated annually on 9 May. The dwindling numbers of islanders present then and alive today have, without exception, vivid memories of the final events of their occupation by German troops. This section recalls the days leading up to the end of the war, the arrival of liberating British troops, and the celebrations which followed.

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