Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Model Occupation

I just finished reading this book. It's full title is "The Model Occupation: The Channel Islands Under German Rule: 1940-1945." I have read many books and memoirs and seen several films and mini-series about the German Occupation of the British Channel Islands during World War 2. This book went into a more detailed look into every aspect of the Occupation. It dealt with the British Government in London abandoning the Islands to the Germans and doing so at the last minute so the Islands were left on their own. It dealt with the evacuations of the British soldiers, women and children from the Islands and how each family/person had to decide for themselves whether to leave or stay. It dealt with the Germans bombing the Islands in June 1940 because they were not notified by London that the Islands were de-militarized. It dealt with the Germans occupying the Islands and they wanted the local governments to remain in power and basically "rubber stamp" the German's orders. It dealt with the relationships between the Germans the and Islanders. Some Islanders refused to have  anything to do with the Germans while the majority worked for and with the Germans (ie collaborated.) Many Islander women (known as Jerry-bags) flirted and slept with the Germans. It dealt with the deportation of British-born citizens to Germany. It dealt with the shortages and rationing of everything. It dealt with the implementation of anti-Semitic and eventual deportation of the few Jews to Nazi death camps and how the majority of the Islanders did nothing and even had the nerve to declare after the war that they knew nothing. It also dealt with the establishment of work camps for Russians, Poles, French, etc on the islands.
The legacy of the Occupation can be seen all over the Channel Islands today and yet most of what happened during the War has only been made public since the 1990s. The British Government in London didn't want their abandonment of the Islands to be made known. The Governments of Jersey, Sark, Herm, Guernsey or Alderney didn't want their collaboration (especially with the arrests and deportations) to be known and the Islanders themselves didn't want their personal or family histories to be known (including the Jerry-bags, collaborators, etc.) The reason the Occupation of the Channel Islands was a "model occupation" is because the Islands and their people, on the whole, did everything and anything the Germans wanted without any resistance (even passive resistance.) After the War every side tried to hide what they had done because they knew it was wrong and the majority of them should have been jailed and placed on trial for collaborating. Every country and area has a history (good and bad.) Those places that admit their mistakes, try to correct them and then make sure they aren't repeated shows a truly great country and people. Those places that know what they did was wrong and do everything to cover-it up shows a backwards country and people. It is only recently that the Islands and the British have opened up their "hidden" archives regarding the Occupation and the whole truth is being know so hopefully all those involved in the mistakes of the past will be known and their deeds not repeated.

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