This project aims to highlight the experience of British victims of Nazi persecution. A key part of this group were the Channel Islanders, who represent the only peoples of the British Isles to the occupied by Nazi forces during the Second World War. Between 200 and 250 of these islanders were sent to Nazi prisons and camps on the continent for resistance-related crimes, where many were forced into labour for the Third Reich, and where a total of 29 died. It is estimated that around 100 islanders submitted compensation claims in the mid-1960s, and it is the testimonies associated with these claims that are the core subject of this project. This project aims to put these testimonies online, along with background information about those deported, interviews with family members, and photographs of those who wrote the testimonies.
By showing the testimonies, biographical documents from various archives, private letters and photos, information and images about French, German, Austrian, Polish, and Czech prisons and concentration camps where Channel Islanders were held, and photos of 'resistance heritage' in the Channel Islands, the project aims to document, as fully as possible, the experience of Channel Islanders in Nazi prisons and camps and the impact upon them and their families on their return.
The Frank Falla archive is named after Guernseyman Frank Falla, former prisoner and survivor of Frankfurt-on-Main and Naumburg-on-Saale prisons. Frank, a journalist, was deported for his role in the underground newsletter GUNS (Guernsey Underground News Service). In the mid-1960s, and in the absence of any official help or interest, Frank took it upon himself to help his fellow former political prisoners in the Channel Islands get compensation for their suffering in Nazi prisons and camps.
In 2010, Frank’s daughter gave Dr Gilly Carr her father’s extensive archives – the most important resistance archives to ever come out of the Channel Islands. And it was then that Gilly knew that this website and its wider associated project must one day come about.
This project and website is funded by the Foundation ‘Remembrance, Responsibility and Future’. The project is lead by Dr Gilly Carr, Senior Lecturer and Academic Director in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, in collaboration with Dr Cord Pagenstecher, a historian at Freie Universität, Berlin (FUB). Researchers on the project are Roderick Miller, who is working on the continental camp and prison material; and Lucy Layton in Jersey and Susan Ilie in Guernsey, who are helping to collate research materials in the Channel Islands. Digital content and website building and design is provided by Switch Digital in Jersey and Helen Gray of Jersey Heritage in consultation with partners from FUB.
While this project has its roots in the discovery of the resistance archive in 2010, and the research for the volume Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation 1940-1945 by Gilly Carr, Paul Sanders and Louise Willmot (Bloomsbury Academic 2014) was complete by 2014, ongoing research on the testimonies has continued since this date. The digital project that is this website began in 2016 and is scheduled to go online later in the year.