20 Facts About the Nazi Occupation of the UK's Channel Islands
20 Facts About the Nazi Occupation of the UK’s Channel Islands

20 Facts About the Nazi Occupation of the UK’s Channel Islands

Shannon Quinn - February 16, 2019

20 Facts About the Nazi Occupation of the UK’s Channel Islands
Women with blonde-haired toddlers gathering food rations in the Channel Islands. Credit: TheIslandWiki.org

4. Hundreds of Children of Nazi Soldiers “Disappeared” from the Channel Islands

Since hundreds of women had relationships with Nazi soldiers, it should be no surprise that plenty of half-German children were born out of wedlock in the Channel Islands. There were 174 recorded births of Germany children, but some speculate that the true number of half-German births could have been as high as 700. Women were ashamed of their half-Nazi babies, and many of them would have at-home births to keep them off the record.

Women who were not married were not required to put the name of the father, so they simply left the birth certificate blank. Many of the children “disappeared” into orphanages, or sent away to live with other families. There were rumors that since the Third Reich wanted to create a perfect Aryan race, some of these children were taken into custody and brought over to Germany. Despite being ashamed of these illegitimate children, there are some women who managed to hold their heads high and raise their children as British citizens, despite the whispers going on behind their back.

20 Facts About the Nazi Occupation of the UK’s Channel Islands
British officers Onboard the HMS Bulldog with Kapitänleutnant Zimmermann signing Germany’s surrender of the Channel Islands. Credit: Wikipedia Commons

3. In May 1945, The Islands Were Finally Liberated

In May of 1945, World War II was finally over, and Adolf Hitler was declared to be dead. British planes flew over the Channel islands, and people cheered, raising the “V for Victory” everywhere. Despite knowing that the war was truly over, an overzealous German Lieutenant Zimmerman refused to give up the islands on behalf of the Nazis. He tried to ask for an armistice, rather than a full surrender. But under threat of death, he finally handed over the control of the Channel Islands back to the United Kingdom.

The German soldiers who were left behind were forced to clean up the landmines on the beaches, to ensure that no British citizens were putting their own lives in danger to clean up the beaches. Finally, people could walk near the ocean, fish, and enjoy living in a vacation area once again. The King and Queen of England both visited the island to thank the people for staying strong, and they were met by cheering crowds. There was a parade, and people were extremely happy to finally be part of the United Kingdom again. For many people who survived the occupation, their lives were completely ruined, and would never be the same. Many people filed lawsuits against the German government, demanding compensation for their losses.

20 Facts About the Nazi Occupation of the UK’s Channel Islands
The Nazi tunnels have been turned into a museum. Credit: JerseyWarTunnels.com

2. Today, Channel Island Citizens Want to Preserve The History of Occupation.

Even though the Nazi occupation was a dark time in the history of the Channel Islands, locals who stayed behind to defend their home are incredibly proud of the fact that they survived living with the enemy for five years. This is why they never tore down the Nazi bunkers, and chose to repurpose them, instead. Many of the structures above ground that were created by the Nazis have become restaurants and cafes, while others were preserved as museums. Today, it is possible to take a tour of the underground Nazi tunnels and bunkers. Even their incomplete underground hospital was left exactly was it was, complete with beds and uniforms hanging in the closet.

The modern-day Channel Islands Occupation Society has a huge group of historians and volunteers who work together to comb through old records and artifacts to discover any new information that may uncover. They are also passionate about sharing the stories of the occupation with students and tourists, hoping that they can pass down the history to every new generation.

20 Facts About the Nazi Occupation of the UK’s Channel Islands
This sign was put in front of a store after British people were liberated from the Germans. Credit: TheIslandWiki

1. The Channel Islands Occupation Is A Look Into An Alternate Universe

History buffs love to ponder the “what if” questions about the many different things that could have happened before, during, and after World War II, and authors like Philip K. Dick have made their living writing about alternate history. And since they struggled so much after Dunkirk and the London Blitz, it is understandable that British people breathed a huge sigh of relief that the Nazis did not actually manage to occupy England.

Today, the story of the occupation of the Channel Islands is still fascinating to a lot of British people, because it is an example of what would have actually happened to England if they had lost to the Germans. People don’t really have to imagine it, because they could see a real example of what really happened in real life. We can be thankful to know that it never actually became a reality.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Red Cross ship saved Channel Islanders from WW2 starvation. BBC. 2014.

The Guernsey Jew who hid from the Nazis in plain sight. Rob Byrne. BBC. 2017.

Defending Jerrybags. Colin Smith. Prospect Magazine. 1997.

The Bitter Years (Documentary). ITV Channel. YouTube.

The True Story of Louisa Gould. Jersey.com

Discover Jersey’s Occupation Story. Jersey.com

Occupation Life. BBC.

Guernsey files reveal how islanders defied Nazi occupation. Stephen Bates. The Guardian. 2010.

Alderney Camps. Wikipedia.

Walking through History: Nazi Occupation The Channel Islands. Channel 4. 2015.

How Jersey’s Nazi children disappeared. JoJo Moyes. The Independent. 1996.

Operation Ambassador. Wikipedia.

Cambridge Ideas – Forgotten Heroes. Cambridge University. 2010.