By Gilly Carr
The story of Emile John Paisnel has been researched in detail by Paul Sanders in The Ultimate Sacrifice (2004), the story of the 21 men and women from Jersey who were deported to Nazi camps and prisons and did not return to the Island.
Emile Paisnel was born on 9 April 1883 in St Clement and was a farmer by profession, living at Boulivot de Bas in Grouville. He was 57 years old at the outbreak of the occupation.
On 19 February 1944, Paisnel was court martialled at King’s Cliff House (a building which still stands in St Helier) and given a ten month sentence by the Troop Court for receiving stolen articles. Sanders tells us that Paisnel’s grand-daughter, ‘Birdie’ Paisnel, believed that Emile was ‘denounced for the recovery of goods later discovered by the Germans, most probably a lot of coal. Paisnel bartered wheat for coal, and his purveyors were two men … who siphoned off fuel from German stocks.’ All three men were court martialled together and Paisnel was given the longest sentence. Sanders tells us that an island dignitary, Jurat Bree, intervened on his behalf and pleaded for Paisnel’s sentence to be executed in Jersey, but this appeal was rejected on 24 March 1944. ‘Anticipating the worst, Paisnel tried to take precautions: he left the island with a large amount of cash stitched into the handle of his suitcase.’
Sanders recorded that Paisnel was deported first to Saint-Lô Prison, where he arrived on 5 May 1944, and later sent to Fresnes Prison. On 23 May he arrived in Frankfurt am Main-Preungesheim Prison after a short sojourn at Karlsruhe prison. On 29 July 1944, Paisnel was sent to Naumburg Prison with the other Channel Islanders with whom he was incarcerated at Frankfurt. Paisnel was the first among the islanders to die at Naumburg, on 29 August 1944, four weeks after his arrival. In the words of Frank Falla, Paisnel was ‘too far gone, mentally and physically, to care and towards his end he refused to eat the paltry food put before him.’
A few years after the war, a headstone was placed in Naumburg cemetery by Paisnel’s family. Later on, his body was exhumed from Naumburg cemetery and moved to the 1939-1945 war cemetery in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in Berlin, plot 9, row G, grave 21, where it remains today.
In 1964, Paisnel’s son filed a claim for compensation as a victim of Nazi Persecution for his father; Frank Falla, in prison with Paisnel and a witness to his presence there, wrote a letter of support to ensure a successful claim. Frank Falla’s letter of witness is today in Jersey Archives.
The author would like to thank Ina Herge of the Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv for giving permission for Emile Paisnel’s records from Frankfurt am Main-Preungesheim Prison to be shown here.
Sanders, P. 2004. The Ultimate Sacrifice. Jersey: Jersey Heritage.
Letter from Frank Falla to Foreign Office, 13 April 1965, The National Archives ref. FO 950/765.
Compensation claim for Nazi Persecution, TNA FO 950/1260.
Registration cards for Emile Paisnel, Jersey Archives ref D/S/A/3/A928 & B928.
Jersey Court Documents, D/Z/H6/7/44.
Hessian Archives Paisnel/hhstaw/409/4/003.
Grave information link