2nd May 1945
Jersey prisoners’ liberation revealed by the Foreign Office
The Occupation of the Channel Islands continued until 9 May 1945, but not everyone remained on the island throughout: many locals were shipped to prisons in mainland Europe. In some cases, this was because they’d been tried and convicted in local courts under German purview. In others, it was simple retaliation on the part of the occupying force for Britain’s internment of German nationals in Persia.
The internment camp at Bad Wurzach was liberated before the Channel Islands, when French tanks appeared on a nearby hill at the end of April 1945. Camp authorities, perhaps realising that Germany’s plans for European domination had failed, raised the white flag over the castle, which had been repurposed and for many years served as a prison – and in early May, the Foreign Office revealed the camps liberation.
Channel Island prisoners liberated
However, the Channel Islanders who had been sent to Wurzach, Biberach and Liebenau among other locations, had to wait another month before they could be flown home to friends and family. Around 1,500 Channel Islanders were liberated from camps during the Allied advance in the closing weeks of the war.
Many of those who’d been sent to the camps were dispatched purely because they hadn’t been born in Jersey. Mainland-born residents, and anyone who had previously been a member of the British armed services was sent away so that they wouldn’t threat to the occupation. The routine deportations, as opposed to deportation upon the conviction, began on 16 September 1942.
In 2002, St Helier was twinned with Bad Wurzach where over 600 of its residents had been sent during the occupation and, in 2015, the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation was celebrated through the unveiling of a tree carving by Robert Koenig. Bad Wurzach has participated in Jersey’s Battle of Flowers several times.
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