We’ve already mentioned how Neville Chamberlain made mistake that will haunt Europe and the entire world for years. Many people today continue to speculate whether these mistakes and subsequent resignation as the Prime Minister have played important factor in destruction of his own health and whether all that played the decisive role which hastened his death. Probably one of the biggest blows was occupation of the Channel Islands.
Channel Islands are two Crown Dependencies in the English Channel close to coast of Normandy in northern France. However while not geographically part of the British Isles historically they have been connected to the British Crown and as such they are considered to be part of British Isles.
Hitler was always fascinated by Britain and he wanted to conquer it like the rest of the Europe. However in order to reach Britain itself he needed to conquer Bailiwick of Jersey and Bailiwick of Guernsey. Due to German fear that tiny islands will be heavily guarded and defended by all means necessary it wasn’t until late June and early July of 1940 that actual invasion started.
But the truth was very different, islands were demilitarized and Germans were able to invade it and establish German control over them. With German control over the islands everything looked like in the rest of the continent. British soldiers on leave were rounded up and considered prisoners of war, defense was set up and Wehrmacht infantry brought into area to secure the obedience of the population.
Hitler’s obsession became evident when he started massive fortification and large construction works. These plans required massive workforce and in order to please their master, military leaders of German forces have imported slave labour. Approximately 16 000 people have been taken to Channel Islands. These included workers from the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, northern Africa and even Soviet Union. Even 1000 Jews from France have been assigned to assist. All that resulted in Channel Islands being one of the most fortified place in Hitler’s Atlantic Wall which stretched from France to Norway.
Repression and mistreatment was similar to the one found in central Europe. Jews were considered unwanted threat and were all sent to concentration camps. But it didn’t end there, even population which was not born on the islands was often sent to German camps. Clergy wasn’t looked kindly upon either and Germans made all efforts to made the lives of those on the islands as hard as possible.
But the sturdy men and women of Channel Islands never surrendered and they have organized their own resistance. More than 4000 people have been sentenced for breaking German laws. While there was no armed resistance, which is expected due to position in which islands were, people still helped slave labourers and often tried to sabotage German equipment.
Despite all that, Islands remained under German control until the very end and were only liberated on May 8th of 1945 when the war officially ended. Luckily the Channel Islands were the only part of Britain successfully invaded by Nazi Germany, but they still serve as vivid reminder what would happen in the United Kingdom if Hitler succeeded in defeating Churchill. The Britain wouldn’t be what it is today.