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on 11 January 2010
This book is a museum catalogue to accompany the exhibition of the same name which opens at Guernsey Museum on 12th March 2010 before going to Jersey Museum in 2012. It tells the story of the 2,000 Channel Islanders who were deported during the German occupation of the Channel Islands to civilian internment camps in Germany in 1942 and 1943. The book and the exhibition focus on the experience of deportation and internment as shown through the art and craftwork made during this period. Many of the objects made in the camps were fashioned from recyled Red Cross parcels (the cardboard, food tins, parcel paper, parcel string, or packing material), and they speak eloquently of the emotions of internment.
The book and exhibition are a fascinating insight into this aspect of WWII history which is frquently overlooked.
on 2 August 2010
I first learned about this subject from a lecture by Dr. Gillian Carr in England and was so intrigued by the objects made by the Channel Islanders deported to German camps during World War II that I bought the exhibit catalogue, "Occupied Behind Barbed Wire," to learn more. The book did not disappoint; there is a wealth of material here in both photos and descriptions.
The catalogue explains the reason that 2.200 British civilians of the Channel Islands were deported to camps in Germany, details of deportation, and descriptions of the wretched conditions in the camps. More importantly, the book explores the ways that people kept busy, improved their surroundings or their wardrobes, expressed themselves, improved the lives of the children in the camps with handmade toys, and even showed their patriotism through the items they made.
Some of the items were functional like the carved wooden spoons and the plates, mugs, and trays made from recycled food tins from the Red Cross food packages. Women tried to keep up appearances with hair curlers fashioned from the steel tins; belts and purses from folded cellophane packing from the Red Cross parcels; and sandals, bags, and other items woven and plaited from the Red Cross parcel string. Some women crocheted sleeves from the cellophane for small food tins to make boxes to keep a few personal items, carving out some personal space from the communal living arragnements. Resistance to the Germans came with the V-sign that was worked into engravings on mugs, embroidery, Christmas decorations, greeting cards, and even one man's beard and moustache.
Other subjects covered include embroidery, greeting cards, water color paintings and photos of camp living, the Red Cross parcels, sports, music, theater, and carnivals, childhood in the camps, artists, and liberation. If you are interested in artistic endeavor by interned civilians, fiber art made under extreme conditions, or the lives of civilians imprisoned far from home during World War II, this book will provide a fascinating, poignant, well-illustrated read.