Channel Islander Imprisoned in Ebrach Prison:
Niall Hubert Bonass, Arthur Purtill
By Roderick Miller
At least two Channel Islanders were incarcerated in Ebrach Prison (Justizvollzugsanstalt Ebrach, Strafanstalt Ebrach, Zuchthaus Ebrach) in the city of Ebrach in Bavaria, Germany. The prison was originally a cloister built in the 12th century and was converted to a prison in 1851. Noted anarchist writer Erich Mühsam was incarcerated in Ebrach Prison after the fall of short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic in 1919, and was later murdered by the Nazis in a concentration camp. In 1933, a man named Lorenz Schriefer was convicted of having murdered a member of the Nazi Party and SA out of jealousy. Although he was originally sentenced to a term in prison, after the Nazis took power they converted his sentence to death and falsified the crime as political to make a so called ‘Nazi blood martyr’ of the victim. Schriefer was executed by guillotine on 9 September 1933, the only known execution to take place in Ebrach Prison in the Nazi era.
Islander residents Niall Bonass and Arthur Purtill arrived in Ebrach Prison from Karlsruhe Prison on 8 December 1944, and left again just two days later on 10 December for Bamberg Prison. They left no testimonials behind of their brief stay in Ebrach Prison.
Ebrach was liberated by the US Army with no resistance on 8 April 1945. The prison is still in operation as of 2017 with a capacity for 312 prisoners. There is no known memorial on the site for those who were unjustly incarcerated there in the Nazi era.
Niall Bonass and Arthur Purtill survived the war, but like many survivors probably suffered from a variety of chronic physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders for the rest of their lives.
Carr, Gilly; Sanders, Paul; Willmot Louise: Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation, 1940-1945, Bloomsbury Academic, London & New York, 2014.
Wiener Library, London:
ITS Archives 15787150 (Bonass), 11484338, 33167510 (Purtill)