21st April 1942

Three Jewish women are deported from Guernsey

It wasn’t only in mainland Europe that Jewish people were sent to concentration camps.

Marianne Grunfeld, Therese Steiner and Auguste Spitz were deported from Guernsey by Germans forces during the occupation. They were initially sent to St Malo, in the occupied part of France, where they were allowed to take up jobs. However, their time there was short.

Within three months they had been sent to Auschwitz, in Poland, where all three died. They were sent to the gas chamber as soon as their train arrived at the camp.

Authorities alerted

The German authorities had initially been unaware that there were Jews living on Guernsey. They were only alerted to the fact when Therese Steiner approached the German High Command for information. At the time, she was working as a nurse on the island, and was hungry for news about her family in Austria.

The authorities initially seemed to be quite helpful. However, her approach prompted them to ask who else on the island might be Jewish. They required every Jew to register themselves, after which there was no possibility of escape.

Therese Steiner had originally come to Britain to escape anti Semitism in her native Austria and, when the war broke out, moved to Sark as a nanny. At that point, she was trapped, being unable to move back to the mainland as the German forces positioned themselves to occupy the Channel Islands because she was not natively British. She subsequently moved to Guernsey before the Germans arrived.

Auguste Spitz worked alongside Steiner and, like Marianne Grunfeld, had no choice but to register as Jewish with the authorities. From this point on, none of the women had any chance of hiding from the occupying forces.

Memorials to the deported

A plaque in their memory was unveiled on St Julian’s Pier in St Peter Port on 27 January 2001. This was vandalised in 2010, and following its restoration it was attacked again in August 2013. On this occasion, a saw was used to cut it from its mounting on the wall.

In total, more than 1000 Guernsey and Sark residents were deported to either Germany or France during the Second World War. Many of them had committed only minor offences. Sixteen of them are remembered on a separate plaque in St Peter Port, which was erected to their memory in 2010.

Another plaque, in the Bordage, St Peter Port, remembers the members of the Guernsey Underground News Sheet. They had been distributing news from the BBC, contrary to German regulations. Five of them were sent to prison in Germany, only two of whom made it back to Guernsey alive.


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Other events that occured in April

Guernsey’s first female murderer goes on trial 1st
A French fisherman is arrested and escorted to St Peter Port 2nd
Guernsey’s new population law comes into force 3rd
Guernsey’s oldest resident dies, aged 110 4th
An occupation-era minefield is discovered at L’Ancresse 5th
Birth of Stone de Croze, the original Guernseyman 6th
The first ever Guernsey stamp is issued 7th
Antiquarian William Collings Lukis was born 8th
Guernsey hosts its first Parkrun at Pembroke 9th
Alderney residents lined the coast to watch Titanic pass 10th
Norfolk pupils spend a week in Guernsey 11th
A plane hit a car while landing at Guernsey Airport 12th
Battery Mirus was test fired for the first time 13th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry fights at Ypres 14th
Guernsey Mormon Sampson Avard dies in Illinois 15th
Lieutenant Governor, Lord Ruthven, died in Bath 16th
Death of the Vicar General of the Channel Islands 17th
TV’s Jeeves is rushed to hospital on Guernsey 18th
Guernsey Airport’s new terminal opened for business 19th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie film opened 20th
Death of Guernsey-born footballer Len Duquemin
Three Jewish women are deported from Guernsey 21st
Guernsey bigamist got married for the second time 22nd
Aurigny pilot Ray Bowyer spots a UFO near Alderney 23rd
The States of Guernsey registers the gov.gg domain 24th
Guernsey-set film The Sea Devils hits cinemas 25th
Hydrofoil Condor 1 completed its final sea trials 26th
The first Muratti football match takes place 27th
Guernsey passengers stage a ferry sit-in 28th
Guernsey abolishes the death penalty for murder 29th
Finishing touches put to new hospital 30th
Murder suspects steal visitor’s boat from St Peter Port