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Outpost of Occupation: The Nazi Occupation of the Channel Islands 1940-45 Hardcover – 20 May 2010
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`gripping narrative based on personal accounts'
--The Good Book Guide, February 2011
About the Author
Barry Turner is a distinguished historian and author of many books including Outpost of Occupation, Countdown to Victory and Suez 1956. He has been a full-time writer for thirty years, and before that wrote as a teacher and journalist. He has written and produced documentaries on a variety of arts subjects and has made regular appearances on BBC current affairs programmes. After twenty years of success as editor of The Writer’s Handbook, Barry Turner was appointed editor of the annual Statesman’s Yearbook. He now writes for The Times and is the founder of the National Academy of Writing. Barry Turner lives in London and in south-west France.
Top customer reviews
Whilst it is not a comprehensive guide to the occupation, which has been covered before, this book gives more of a personal perspective from the islanders point of view.
I have quite a few books on the occupation, but I still found this book to be an informative & enjoyable read as it offered a totally different view.
They are promoted to english-speaking tourists as a bit of France without the language problem, and, certainly, this was still true when I worked there in 1961. They are also known by the financial sector for their tax-haven attributes. And it is impossible to buy property and take up residence there unless you are very rich. That doesn't mean that everyone living on the islands is rich. Only the lucky few and many of them are very rich.
The islands were run on feudal lines up to WWII and since then feudalism has been tempered with a democratic veneer.
Jersey, the one I know best, is ruled by a self-perpetuating oligarchy which is relatively free of many of the constraints found in modern democratic states - separation of powers, respect for human rights etc. They do have elections, but so far the electorate has not been sufficiently "radicalised" (a relative term) to make meaningful use of its latent power.
The Jersey authorities are currently reeling from revelations of institutional child abuse which was covered up for four decades. Many of those in authority who were not directly involved in the abuse itself had become so embroiled in the cover up that they then had to pull out all the institutional stops to keep the whole affair under wraps.Their efforts included sacking the Health Minister when he started asking awkward questions, followed up by illegal harrassment when he wouldn't let the matter rest. They then sacked the Police Chief when he backed his Deputy's running of the abuse enquiry, and they attempted to undermine the enquiry by maligning the Deputy. Were it not for the fact that he retired in the normal course he probably would have been sacked too.
This is apparently "the Jersey way", and the UK Home Secretary has refused over the years to face up to his responsibility to enforce good governance in this particular Crown Dependency.
Older hands will not be surprised at this. The London Government abandoned the Channel Islands to their fate when they were invaded by Hitler's forces in July 1940.
Admittedly, it made no sense, at the the time, to divert precious military resources from resisting Hitler's continental advances and defending the homeland, and to risk high civilian casualties, in order to liberate the Channel Islands whose occupation was neither here nor there in the grander scheme of things. The Island authorities therefore concentrated on mitigating the effects of the occupation on the local population. And, overall, they were successful in this.
However, in the post war hubris and myth making of victory, the Islands and their occupation became a serious embarrassment to the UK establishment. They were seen as closer to Vichy than to the indomitable spirit of the Blitz or to the resistence in many other occupied territories. So, while a few knighthoods were given out to those seen as borderline collaborators, mainland Britain just wanted to forget about the whole unfortunate affair.
Barry Turner's book gives a detailed, sympathetic and balanced account of the occupation. There were no obvious good guys and bad guys of the sort found in the WWII comic books on which I was brought up. Here both the occupiers and the occupied were treading a very delicate path in their dealings with each other. So any post facto evaluation has to be extremely sensitive to the context There were crimes committed: including the shooting of civilians and the bringing in of Russian POWs and their working to literal death by the occupiers. But, on the whole and given the situation they found themselves in, the Germans were well behaved towards the Islanders. There were many liaisons across enemy lines which turned into marriages after the war. The renowned Irish language poet, Gabriel Rosenstock, is a product of an Irish mother (an Irish nurse working in Jersey during the occupation) and a German father (a soldier/doctor in the occupying forces).
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Turner's book is very well written and is extremely readable. He writes with understanding and empathy. It is a "must read" for anyone with a deep interest in the Channel Islands, as the ghost of the occupation haunts both institutions and individuals to this day. To ignore the occupation, or be ignorant of it, is to leave a gaping hole in one's understanding of the psyche of the Islands.
I have found the book fascinating and a really good buy.