By Gilly Carr
Alfred George Hacquoil was born Jersey on 2 May 1925 and during the Occupation lived in the parish of St Ouen. At the time of his registration, in January 1941, he was aged 15 and he did not yet have a profession.
On 25 February 1943, Hacquoil was deported in a second wave of mass deportations, the first having taken place in September 1942. The second wave of deportations targeted British Jews, men who had served as officers in the British army, those born outside the islands who had gained exemption first time around, those who had previously been imprisoned, and those who were without employment; Hacquoil’s family believe that he was selected for deportation because he had stolen a rabbit or chicken from the Germans.
In February 1943 he was 17 years old and the destination for nearly all deported at this time was civilian internment camps. In total, nearly 2,200 Islanders were deported in the two deportation events. Hacquoil’s deportation caused problems within his family. He testified later that his parents were dead and he was the breadwinner for three younger brothers and a sister. After he left, his sister ‘tried to commit suicide and was admitted to a mental home’ and that his three younger brothers ‘had to be put in an orphanage’.
While those deported to civilian internment camps are not included within this wider project, Alfred Hacquoil has been included because of his unusual treatment. Our only insight into this comes from the compensation claim for Nazi persecution, which he submitted in 1966 aged 40.
In his testimony, he wrote that he was deported first to Ilag VIII Kreuzburg with 20 other islanders, a civilian internment camp, where he claimed that the camp was ‘overlooked at all times by three machine guns’ and where the food comprised ‘one black coffee each morning, one loaf between 12 men, a bowl of swede for five days of the week and potatoes on the other two … if it hadn’t been for the Red Cross parcels we would have starved.’
He testified that, in October 1944, while still at Kreuzburg, when out with a working party with around 100 Russian POWs, he was injected with an unknown substance. ‘After this injection we all passed out in a faint and changed colour to a blue and yellow.’ It is possible that the men were either used in some medical experiment or else they were given an inoculation – perhaps contaminated – that had an adverse effect.
In early 1945, the Russians were closing in on the area of the camp. Hacquoil wrote that the camp was evacuated and ‘we were loaded into cattle wagons for an 80 mile journey to a little station named BROCKOU, 12 miles from Breslau [probably Brockau, now called Brochów, a district of Breslau/Wrocław]. We were there transferred to a train without heat, 12 in a compartment, and issued with one German loaf to last all the journey which took 12 days into Austria, to a town called Spittal. During the last 30 days of my imprisonment we had no rations issued to us at all.’ Hacquoil was almost certainly in the civilian internment camp Ilag XVIII. He mentions ‘the American camp next to us‘, meaning the POW camp Stalag XVIIIa/z. The men in the internment camp found food thanks to an aid drop by the RAF, and were eventually liberated by a British tank division.
While in a displaced persons camp in Spittal, Hacquoil embroidered a tapestry of a ship which epitomised his dearest wish: to sail back to Jersey.
To supplement Hacquoil’s testimony, MP Paul Rose wrote an accompanying letter summarising the case. In this, he said that Hacquoil had been ‘marched to another camp near Breslau’ before the journey by cattle wagon. Hacquoil himself did not mention a camp near Breslau but may have mentioned it in a separate letter to his MP.
Alfred Hacquoil did not receive compensation.
In 2014, his son Howard was able to give some insight into the after-effects of the experience on his father:
[My father] had plenty of emotional scars and he also had rheumatic fever … he developed a damaged heart [and] he told us that he was always cold and hungry [in the camp] and this must have affected his health. He always got very emotional and cried when he talked about the camp.’ Later, Howard wrote that his father ‘suffered ill-health on his return and had a couple of strokes. He tried to blank things out but he could not. He often had bad dreams and thought he was back in the past … He felt very let down by the Foreign Office and his fight for compensation … He always had the idea that one day he would be compensated for what he went through … he wanted to return to Jersey and go home but the money situation stopped him … [After the war] he was a changed man according to all who knew him, often very quiet and solemn.’
Howard’s final comments were that his father ‘had a kind of OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder]; he was spotless and always so well-groomed and clean; he was always scrubbing something and often repeated cleaning over and over again … I think that this went back to his time in Spittal, where he said there was mould and damp everywhere.
The evidence suggests that Alfred Hacquoil, like many others who were deported, were affected by a form of post traumatic stress disorder after the war.
Jersey occupation registration documents, Jersey Archives ref St O/3/1; St O/3/2 and St O/3/3.
The National Archives Nazi Persecution compensation claim ref TNA 950/5012
Letters from Howard Hacquoil to Gilly Carr, 19 May 2014 and 17 June 2014.
Statistischer Reichsamt (publisher): Amtliches Gemeindeverzeichnes für das Deutsche Reich auf Grund der Volkszählung 1939, Berlin 1940, p. 5-1.
Stückler, Christoph: Zweiter Weltkrieg: Das “Lager Spittal. Der australische Kriegsgefangene Allan Bowe erinnert sich. Published by the Stadtarchiv Spittal (in German). LINK