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Islands in Danger: Story of the German…

Islands in Danger: Story of the German Occupation of the Channel Islands,…

by Alan Seaton-Wood

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After reading a biography of Sybil Hathaway, the “Dame of Sark,” I wanted to get a more complete picture of the German occupation of the Channel Islands by the during World War II. A part of the British Isles, the Channel Islands were closer geographically to France – and were the only “non-conquered” lands to be subjected to Nazi occupation.

On each island, one person led the island’s government and each influenced whether the people would evacuate to England when given the chance or stay in their homes. On Jersey, about 20% left; in Guernsey, 50%. On Sark, most people stayed; on Alderney, most left, much to the island’s later detriment. The authors explain how the different choices affected post-war life on each of the islands.

In the Hathaway biography, the author made it appear that the Germans were somewhat benevolent and downplayed the suffering on Sark. The authors of Islands in Danger gave a more complete picture, telling stories about people who were killed by air strikes, arrested for minor offenses, sent to horrible prisons and concentration camps; many of them died under horrible circumstances, both on the islands and elsewhere. These contrasting stories, in many cases, were due to the fact that early occupiers were aristocratic and often anti-Nazi officers; later hard-line Nazis came to rule.

I found the story a fascinating study of how people respond to hardship -- and learned that it’s never fair for those who never experienced living in occupied lands to judge the actions of those who did. I found it difficult to believe that, after the war, friendships existed between the occupiers and the occupied. ( )
  NewsieQ | Mar 25, 2014 |
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