Today is Liberation Day on Jersey. Thousands will attend an outdoor service in Liberation Square, commemorating the release of the Channel Islands from the Occupation in 1945.
The subject of the Occupation is still a raw one because the Channel Islands are a mirror for Britain. They are what would have happened to us. To get an idea of the scale of the invasion there is a trail which is best visited but the download gives an idea of the magnitude of the event.
The most important site is the complex known as The Jersey War Tunnels - the underground hospital Hohlgangsanlage 8. It is one of the most important war museums in Europe, although it is comparatively small. Allow a full day to walk through the long corridors which are set up to chronologically document how the war affected a small island.
The Channel Islands were also a laboratory for Goebbels who took keen personal interest in how the invasion was handled as it formed part of his PR strategy for his German audience. He arranged for photos to be taken which allowed the folks back home to imagine that this was the Isle of Wight - something even the invading soldiers were sometimes confused about - and suggested that far from resisting, the inhabitants had all but welcomed them with open arms. The sore point being, that some - a very few it should be grimly noted - did welcome them with open arms and legs. The Germans were good-looking and appeared to have cash.
Anyone stranded on the Island at that point would have thought the Reich had triumphed and there was nothing for sensible people to do but knuckle under and be enfolded in to the new empire, inch by inch. There was nothing left but a thread of hope and small acts of resistance, such as hiding"V" lapel pins made out of Victorian sixpences. Each act was met with increasing ferocity and repression. Albert Bedane decided to hide a Jewish woman and a number of other people; his thinking was that if he was to die, he might as well make it for a large risk.
The Islanders hung on despite the risks, the deaths, the deportations. On May 8 1945 the starving fag-end of the Reich finally accepted they had run out of arms, men and money. On May 9 the formal surrender locally was done on HMS Bulldog in St Peter Port, Guernsey.
Happy Liberation Day, Channel Islands.