5th January 1993

Guernsey opens its wartime files

Officials on Guernsey finally unsealed a controversial volume of its wartime archives on 5 January 1993. The records, which had been locked away at the end of the occupation, detailed how the island authorities had complied with German demands regarding the local Jewish population.

They recorded that bailiff John Leale had handed over the names of Guernsey’s Jewish residents to the German forces, as a result of which three women were deported. They died in German concentration camps on the European mainland.

Although the authorities appear to have complied promptly, they subsequently claimed that they had done all they could to protect Guernsey’s Jewish residents. Yet, at the same time, they were aware that failure to do as they were told would likely have led to reprisals.

Jersey was unable to open its own files since its entire wartime archive had been stolen in the early 1990s. Although the majority of its papers were returned, those that covered the deportation of the island’s Jewish population were never recovered. Many believe the contents were either destroyed or sold to collectors, most likely in the United States.

Forced compliance

However, Guernsey’s unsealed files didn’t only concern themselves with the fate of the island’s Jews. They also detailed how half of the population had been actively working for the occupying army.

This wasn’t always done willingly. When the Germans demanded several thousand workers to help with the airport and island defences, the local works ministry laid off the requisite number from local industries like tomato farming, and informed the unemployed labourers that the German forces would be willing to give them work. What choice did they have other than to accept? The Controlling Committee had considered withholding unemployment benefit from any who refused.


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Other events that occured in January

Alderney elects its first president 1st
Guille and Alles open their library 2nd
Guernsey bans smoking in public places 3rd
Guernsey Press registers its domain 4th
Guernsey Zoo is sold as a going concern 5th
Guernsey opens its wartime files
Guernsey Police moves to its new headquarters 6th
Guernsey Fisher makes its maiden voyage 7th
Work begins on the Val des Terres 8th
A hotel porter goes on trial for murder 9th
Guernsey Police Service appoints its first inspector 10th
Royal theft inquiry heads to Guernsey 11th
Channel Express Airways plane crashes in Guernsey 12th
Sibyl Hathaway, Dame of Sark, is born 13th
Channel Television disappears 14th
Benefactor Osmond de Beauvoir Priaulx dies 15th
MV Prosperity is wrecked at Perelle 16th
Guernsey’s Royal Court sits for the first time 17th
Doctor Who travels to Guernsey 18th
Channel 4 gameshow Treasure Hunt comes to Guernsey 19th
Hanois Lighthouse is cut off by the weather 20th
Guernsey-built prototype plane crashes 21st
Guernsey Steam Tramway stops running 22nd
Radiant Med sinks with loss of life 23rd
Guernsey wins gold at the Commonwealth Games 24th
Sark is awarded Dark-Sky status 25th
Guernsey passengers are battered by storms 26th
Sir Isaac Newton has his say on a mysterious Guernsey invention 27th
Guernsey’s last witch trial takes place 28th
Guernsey poet George Métivier is born 29th
The States of Guernsey proposes a new airport 30th
Guernsey lifeboat performs a chemical tanker rescue 31st