By Gilly Carr
Stanley George Green was born on 27 December 1900. According to Stanley’s son Maurice, Stanley’s father was Jewish but this information was covered up by the family and both Stanley and his wife had been baptised. This was evidently a genuine conversion as his letters while in prison clearly show that he was a committed Christian and had successfully brought his children up likewise. Stanley was married and worked as the manager and projectionist at West’s cinema in Jersey. He encouraged his three children, Maurice, Leslie and Esme, to have a sense of defiance against the occupiers. The teenage siblings designed, printed and sold a Christmas card with a hidden V-for-victory and subversive verse inside. Despite being born in England, Stanley Green was not deported with other English-born men in September 1942; presumably he gained an exemption because of his job. However, his eldest son Leslie, by then 18 years old, was deported to the male civilian internment camp of Laufen.
Stanley was (correctly) suspected but not convicted of espionage. In Jersey, army veterans and members of the Air Raid Precaution (ARP) service had secretly collected intelligence about and mapped the locations of German fortifications. Stanley Green photographed these plans and produced a miniaturised negative barely larger than a postage stamp. He handed this to the controller of the ARP, Major Crawford-Morrison, when he was deported along with other officers to Laufen in February 1943. When in the camp, Crawford-Morrison gave it to an internee due to be repatriated to England and the information thereby reached British Intelligence.
On 16 January 1944, Stanley Green was arrested and, on 25 February 1944, was sentenced to six months imprisonment for failure to hand in a radio and cameras – both forbidden items. He was kept in Jersey jail until he was deported on 1 March with three unknown others (an event not recorded in the political prisoner log book in Jersey). From his own later testimony we learn that he was sent to a series of prisons in France; first Saint-Lô Prison for ten days (1-9 March 1944), then Fort de Villeneuve Saint-Georges Prison, where he spent four months (from 9 March until 24 July 1944) and given the prisoner number 4877. His letters to his family from Villeneuve show that he found the separation from his family very difficult, was consumed by worries, and could only watch while the French in the prison received food parcels from their families while the English (presumably other Islanders) were ‘not in too good a position regarding eats’. In the cell next to his was Cornelis van Ooststroom, a Dutchman who had been deported from Jersey and the two men became friends. Green also referred to other men in prison with him in a letter dated April 1944: ‘Soyer’ (John Soyer, deported 2 December 1943), ‘Berezay’ (August Desiré Berezay, deported in the spring of 1944), and ‘Dorey’ or ‘Doney’ (quite possibly Walter Dauny, who was in Villeneuve at this time). These references are important in providing evidence that these men were in Villeneuve at this time.
Stanley was later sent to Fresnes Prison near Paris on 24 July 1944. Here he later told his son Maurice that he witnessed and experienced torture (including having his finger and toe nails pulled out) at the Gestapo HQ in the city, but this was not mentioned in his later compensation testimony.
Stanley was transferred to Buchenwald concentration camp via a five day journey in a cattle truck, arriving on 20 August 1944. Here he was stripped, doused in disinfectant, his head and body shaved, and given his concentration camp uniform of an old pair of trousers and a thin smock. He was given the prisoner number 76804. He later told Alan and Mary Wood, when they were writing Islands in Danger, that he and the men who arrived with him in Buchenwald ‘slept in the open for six weeks on heaps of stone; bare-footed, bare-headed and without any covering. At nights it was bitterly cold and often it rained. Then they managed to find room in one of the block houses.’ Records show that he was placed in block 45/C. As British prisoners in Buchenwald were rare, and as a ‘peculiarity of any sort attracted the special attentions of the SS’, Green ‘got into the habit of strolling about with his arm casually crooked, hand on lapel, over the ‘E’ on his breast which stood for ‘Englander”, as he later told the Woods.
It was clear in Stanley’s correspondence with his family that his Christian faith helped him to survive. Writing to his son after the war, he wrote:
When I was in Buchenwald I prayed a lot about you and it was difficult to pray there with all the noise and swearing of course all in a foreign language. But I used to squat on the floor and pull the blanket all over me and talk to Jesus about you.
According to the later testimony of Maurice, to whom Stanley spoke about his experiences, in Buchenwald it was Stanley’s job was to pick up dead and almost-dead bodies and put them on carts to be taken to the crematorium. He was also given the job of shovelling up buckets of fat from the floor of the crematorium. If this was not done to the liking of the Ukrainian guard, then the men were beaten with a club which was studded with nails. On another occasion, a guard put his bayonet through Stanley’s foot, which another prisoner cauterised with a glowing ember from a fire. Maurice testified that he had seen this mark on his father’s foot, and had also seen his father’s clawed fingers and nails which were crooked from having been pulled out.
Stanley experienced much violence in the camp, and recalled the following in his own later testimony:
Here I had bad dysentery, which made me very weak, so bad I could not walk very well and coming back from a [work] commando one evening I slipped and fell and was shot at by the guard: luckily he missed me by a few inches. On another occasion I was not quick enough after being shouted at by a young SS guard who hit me in the mouth with the butt end of his rifle and broke 5 of my teeth off down to the gums. There is much to tell about Buchenwald, which would run to many pages. However, by the underground movement (thanks to Yeo Thomas) I got a letter out to my son at Laufen who made application to one of the protecting powers and I arrived in Laufen on 10 January 1945.
His son Leslie, then suffering from TB in Laufen, wrote in his memoirs about the day he saw his father again.
There, standing waiting for me was as pitiable a sight as one can imagine. Here was my Dad, his clothes badly worn, his body a mere skeleton and having great difficulty holding his shaven head erect … he smiled and held out his hand, which I took eagerly, yet trying not to grasp his bony fingers too tightly for fear I might hurt him.
Stanley Green survived the war thanks to being transferred to Laufen civilian internment camp. He and Leslie were able to return to Jersey together in 1945. In their absence, the family had had to sell most of their possessions to survive financially.
Wood, A. and Seaton Wood, M. 1955. Islands in Danger. New York: The Macmillan Company.
Personal correspondence in the collection of the family of Stanley Green.
Nazi Persecution compensation claim of Stanley Green, TNA ref FO 950/2914.
Leslie Green papers, Société Jersiaise ref. GO2/32.
Court documents for Stanley Green, Jersey Archives ref. D/Z/H6/7/48.
Occupation registration documents, Jersey Archives ref. St/S/6/331 to St/S/6/334.
International Tracing Service documents for Stanley Green (Wiener Library for the study of the Holocaust and Genocide) refs: 108314392, 108314387, 108314388, 6001779, 6001780, 6001781, 6001782, 6001783, 6001784, 6001785, 6001786, 6001788, 5387225.
Imperial War Museum interview with Maurice Green (1989), ref. 10716.