By Gilly Carr
Edward Peter Muels was born on 2 July 1912 and lived in the parish of Grouville in Jersey. He was married with a son, David, and worked as a lorry driver during the occupation. He comes to our attention because, on 4 May 1944, he was convicted by military court tribunal for ‘aiding and abetting desertion’ and given a sentence of 1 year and three months imprisonment.
Muels’ son David was able to add more details to this story through a letter he wrote to the Jersey Evening Post in 2003, reproduced in Joe Miere’s book Never to be Forgotten (2004, 141-44). Here he explained how his family came to know German Gefreiter (corporal) David Hoost, who knocked on their door one day needing a bicycle pump. Hoost was a Jehovah’s Witness and the Muels family were at that time studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and so weekly meetings to discuss their faith soon began in the autumn of 1943.
On New Year’s Eve 1943, when Hoost was supposed to be on sentry duty, he arrived at the Muels’ house, his hands covered in blood, asking for clean clothes and threatening to shoot himself. He had shot an officer, Alfred König, thinking that he was an intruder trying to get into the barracks. The Muels family gave him some old clothes and Hoost left. However, the Geheime Feldpolizei came to the house later that night and searched it. Shortly afterwards, Hoost was captured and told to go to the Russian front. When he refused, he was executed by firing squad on 27 April 1944. Edward Muels was arrested, sentenced and deported to Germany on 2 June 1944.
In early 1948 the Muels family were contacted through the Austrian embassy by a man who was in an un-named camp in Germany with Muels, and who stated that Muels had died three weeks before the camp was liberated. Joe Mière then adds to this narrative by saying that a Swiss survivor who knew Muels in the camp said that he had heard that Muels had died in a ‘concentration camp’ near Kassel.
Records from the International Tracing Service (ITS) indicate that Muels arrived from Rheinbach Prison to Siegburg Prison on 13 August 1944. We do not know whether Rheinbach was his first prison or whether he spent time elsewhere. Charles Machon of Guernsey, deported the same month, was sent straight there and was at that prison for several months. On 19 September 1944, Muels was sent to Kassel-Wehlheiden Prison, where he died on 7 January 1945. The cause of death is given as Herzschwäche or ‘weak heart’, a typical Nazi euphemism for the cause of death of maltreated prisoners. Edward Muels was buried in Kassel-Bettenhausen cemetery, and his gravesite (number 277) has protected status as a war grave.
As Edward Muels did not survive the occupation, his name can be found today inscribed on the Lighthouse Memorial as one of the Jersey 21.
Gebrüder Schönhoven (publishers): Einwohnerbuch Stadt und Landkreis Kassel, Kassel, 1940.
Hessisches Staatsarchiv, Marburg, StadtAKS Best. A3.35.1 No. 3.1.393, death register entry for Edward Muels.
Miere, J. 2004. Never to be Forgotten. Jersey: Channel Island Publishing.
Sanders, P. 2004. The Ultimate Sacrifice. Jersey: Jersey Heritage Trust.
International Tracing Service records for Edward Peter Muels, Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, refs: 41472671 to 41472677 inclusive; 11362550/1, 11350694/1.
Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (German War Graves Association), record of Edward Muels’ grave. LINK