Channel Islanders imprisoned in Landsberg Prison:
By Roderick Miller
At least nine Channel Islanders were imprisoned in Landsberg Prison (Gefangenenanstalt und Festungshaftanstalt in Landsberg am Lech, Justizvollzugsanstalt Landsberg) from 1943 to 1945. The prison is in Landsberg am Lech in the Upper Bavaria district of the state of Bavaria in Germany. It was built between 1905 and 1908 with a capacity for 500 prisoners. After the First World War, a section of the prison was re-built for so-called Festungshaft or ‘fortress imprisonment’, an ‘honourable’ type of incarceration where privileged prisoners could enjoy certain luxuries such as having very relaxed visitation rights and not being required to perform forced labour. Adolf Hitler spent eight months as a ‘fortress prisoner’ in Landsberg and used the opportunity to write his propagandist autobiography Mein Kampf. The Nazis began using the prison for political prisoners soon after their takeover in 1933.
In 1942, four of the policemen sentenced in the Guernsey police trial and Paul Gourdan from Jersey were deported to a series of prisons in France, and then briefly in August 1942 to Landsberg Prison, prior to going on to other prisons and camps in Germany. They were in Landsberg Prison so briefly that they left no description other than the fact of their short stay there.
Alfred Baker arrived in Landsberg Prison, sometime in 1943. He was apparently only in the prison briefly for an operation to be performed.
Firstly, I am scarred for life, left lower jaw, owing to the fact that I was run down, lost weight to 52 kilos, & they had to operate on me, that was at Landsberg/Lech Germany, at the foot of some mountains. The doctor said to me, “I can’t give you more food as you are my enemy.” The day after the operation I had to go straight to work (forced labour). I also had an abscess in my ear a little time after the operation. On entering Buchwald Horror Camp I was kicked to hell by a big Nazi. — Alfred Baker, 23 January 1967.
George Bailey was incarcerated for two weeks in Landsberg in late 1944, where he performed forced labour under relatively mild conditions as a potato peeler in the prison kitchen prior to being deported to Dachau Concentration Camp. Channel Islanders Charles Friend, Frank Harper, Philip Ozard and Frank Tuck were placed on a forced march in the direction of Dachau around 17-20 April 1945, but ended up in the end in Landsberg. The remaining Channel Islanders and other political prisoners still in Landsberg Prison were liberated on 30 April 1945.
From early 1944 until the end of the war, 210 people died in Landsberg Prison as a result of maltreatment or execution. All of the Channel Islanders who were imprisoned in Landsberg Prison — some of them twice — would survive to see liberation, except for Percival Smith, who died in custody in Augsburg Prison. Those who survived would suffer from a variety of chronic physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders for the rest of their lives.
After the war, the Allies used Landsberg Prison for performing executions of death sentences meted out in the Dachau and Nuremberg Trials, with 252 Nazis executed by hanging. A further 33 criminals, mostly displaced persons (DPs) who had committed capital crimes, were executed by the Allies into the late 1940s by firing squad or hanging. Landsberg Prison continues to operate today as a fully functional prison.
Carr, Gilly; Sanders, Paul; Willmot Louise: Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation, 1940-1945, Bloomsbury Academic, London & New York, 2014.
Bailey, K. G.: Dachau: All the Horrors of Nazi Oppression; Guernsey Press Co. Ltd, Guernsey, Channel Islands, 6th printing 1979
Wiener Library, London: International Tracing Service Archives.
11538703, 1149503 (Howlett)