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Nazis in the Channel Islands

The Battle of Britain may have scuppered Hitler’s plans for an invasion of Britain, but, as Emma Slattery Williams reveals, some British subjects still lived under Nazi occupation

THE DAY THE NAZIS CAME

German troops march through the streets of Guernsey after the swift invasion
GETTY X2

When Dorothy Edwards stared out of her window and watched a young signaller kicking a football around, she couldn’t help thinking that he was very attractive. !e Sun shone over Guernsey as he saw her looking and gave her a salute. Dorothy stuck her tongue out in reply. Willi Joanknecht was a German sailor and part of the force currently occupying Dorothy’s home, the Channel Islands. He was supposed to be the enemy. Boys she’d known since childhood had signed up to fight men like Willi and defend their freedom from Hitler and the Nazis. But still, Dorothy liked the look of him.

The Germans establish themselves quickly; one soldier patrols the clifs of German-held Jersey, overlooking the La Corbière lighthouse
ALAMY X1, BRIDGEMAN IMAGES X2, GETTY X3, TOPFOTO X1
Dame of Sark Sibyl Hathaway refused to evacuate the island; she remained in her position until her death in 1974

Today the average Briton may not be able to give many details about the German occupation of the Channel Islands, and may not consider it that significant in the grand scheme of World War II. It doesn’t evoke the same imagery and emotions as the Blitz, and is rarely taught in schools. Y et the summer of 1940 marked the start of five years when a part of the British Isles was under enemy control. It was a unique wartime experience, which offers a glimpse into what life might have been like with a swastika flying over Britain.

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About BBC History Revealed

Despite being one of the most talked about artworks in history, the Mona Lisa remains enshrined in mystery. And while we will never know what she was smiling about, we explore what we do now know about the world's most famous painting. Plus: We look at the story of Robert the Bruce's fight for Scottish independence, the Nazi Occupation of the Channel Islands and the reign of Queen Anne, which saw the creation of Great Britain.