19th December 2012
Jersey’s German post delivered 71 years late
Ninety letters written by German soldiers stationed in Jersey during the occupation were finally delivered to their recipients in 2012. Originally penned on 16th and 17th December 1941, they had been diverted from a German army post office in St Helier and hidden, initially in a piano, for the next 66 years. It had been an act of resistance by local teenagers.
In 2007, an anonymous local handed them to the Jersey Archive, which set about translating and cataloguing the valuable stash of information about what life had been like for occupying forces, so far from home during the Second World War. Once they had been processed, reported the BBC, and “with the help of Jersey Post, [the Archive] has been able to track down the families of 10 soldiers to finally deliver the messages”.
An extensive search
“It seemed an impossible task, given that many of the letters were addressed to now-defunct PO Box numbers or administrative offices, and some were meant to be posted to locations that no longer form part of Germany,” reported The Telegraph on 19 December 2012. Yet, “despite the obstacles, counterparts at Deutsche Post in Germany managed to find ten families related to the original recipients who still live in the same places.”
That may have been a fraction of the number that hadn’t received their Christmas messages, but it was ten times the number that Jersey Post had expected to track down. It was made possible through cooperation with the Red Cross, which saved islanders from starvation as food supplies dwindled towards the end of the occupation.
The greetings revealed that, while life could have been worse if the soldiers were on active duty on the battlefield, they were nonetheless demoralised and desperate for the war to be over. If they expected that to happen any time soon, they would have been disappointed. The occupation was less than a year and a half old and there were another three and a half years of war yet to come.
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