Channel Islanders imprisoned in Naumburg Prison:
Clifford John Cohu, Cecil James Duquemin, Francis ‘Frank’ Walter Falla, George James Fox, Joseph John Gillingham, Ernest Stanley Legg, William Howard Marsh, Clifford Bond Querée, Frederick William Page, Emile John Paisnel, Joseph James Murray Tierney
By Roderick Miller
Eleven Channel Islanders were imprisoned in Naumburg Prison (Gerichtsgefängnis Naumburg, Justizvollzugsanstalt Naumburg) in Naumburg (Saale), a city in the German state of Saxony Anhalt. The city was founded in the Middle Ages and is probably best known for its 13th century cathedral. Naumburg Prison was initially founded in 1855 as courthouse, which later became the prison’s central administration building. By the start of the Second World War, the prison had 123 single cells and 24 walled-in isolation cells, which were initially designed to provide for 239 convicts and pre-trial detainees. Like most common prisons in Nazi Germany, the inmates consisted of common convicted criminals and those who were placed there due to racial ancestry, political activities, religious beliefs, or sexual preference. The prison was supervised by inspector Otto Kirsch and bailiff Paul Weiss, and ‘staffed by guards and warders who were ex-soldiers, who were either invalided out of the fighting forces or too old to fight’, according to testimonials of Frank Falla.
In July 1944, the eleven Channel Islanders Clifford Cohu, Cecil Duquemin, Frank Falla, George Fox, Joseph Gillingham, Ernest Legg, William Marsh, Clifford Querée, Frederick Page, Emile Paisnel, and Joseph Tierney were transferred by train from Preungesheim Prison in Frankfurt am Main to Naumburg Prison. The prison was overcrowded, with 350 prisoners confined there. They suffered from severe malnutrition and were given no or very little medical attention. According to Falla, by the beginning of 1945 the prisoner death rate in Naumburg prison was as high as 10 men per week. The Channel Islanders were never visited by any member of a neutral power or by any representatives of the Red Cross, nor did they receive any Red Cross parcels or any messages or letters. The prisoners were denied any reading material, including Bibles and other books in their possession at the time of their arrival in Naumburg. Their relatives were not informed of their whereabouts or their status as living or deceased. Most of the relatives of those who died first found out about it after the war when Frank Falla published a letter to the editor of the Jersey Evening Post.
On 9-11 April 1945, the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) bombed Naumburg, killing upwards of 100 civilians, as well as an unknown number of non-German forced labourers. 700 buildings in the city were destroyed or heavily damaged, but the three remaining Channel Island prisoners in Naumburg Prison survived the bombing. After the allied bombing of Krumpa, a town about ten miles from Naumburg, Frank Falla and 44 other prisoners were forced to dig for unexploded bombs there. US Army Troops entered Naumburg without opposition on 12 April 1945, and on the next day the remaining Channel Island prisoners were freed. Frank Falla, Ernest Legg, and Clifford Bond Querée were examined by an American doctor on 14 April 1945 and told that they only had some weeks left to live. Querée did in fact die from pneumonia on 1 May 1945, but Falla and Legg managed to survive. Falla stayed on for several months in Naumburg (Saale) with the Americans at the Hotel Schwarzes Ross, joined there later by Legg after he recovered in a local hospital.
Emile Paisnel had been the first of the Channel Islanders to die in Naumburg, on 29 August 1944. Clifford Cohu had been taken from Naumburg Prison in August 1944 to Zöschen Forced Labour Camp, where he died on 20 September 1944. Frederick Page’s death followed on 5 January 1945, followed by the death of George Fox on 11 March. Joseph Gillingham was taken from Naumburg Prison on 2 February 1945 and died in died in Halle Police Prison in the city of Halle (Saale). William Marsh left Naumburg at an unknown date and died on 9 March 1945 in Gleina, also in Saxony-Anhalt. Joseph Tierney had been discharged from Naumburg Prison on 25 March 1945, but died in Kaštice (formerly called Kaschitz, Sudetenland, now in the Czech Republic) in early May 1945, still in German custody. Cecil Duquemin had been taken out of Naumburg Prison in October 1944 to perform forced labour in a munitions factory in Bad Dürrenberg near Leuna, about 15 miles from Naumburg, and was eventually liberated by Soviet troops in Saaz, Sudetenland (now Žatec, Czech Republic).
Of the eleven Channel Islanders imprisoned in Naumburg Prison, only three survived: Cecil Duquemin, Frank Falla and Ernest Legg.
Naumburg Prison continued to be used throughout the GDR communist era and well into the the 1990s and 2000s. It closed officially in 2012 and the entire prison grounds are now (as of 2016) being offered for sale by the state of Saxony Anhalt. Mischa Naue, a former GDR political prisoner in Naumburg prisons, currently offers scheduled public tours of the prison (see Web Links below). A further visit to Naumburg Prison in April 2022 showed that the prison was in the process of being demolished (see images), although the administration building and chapel will be retained as they are listed buildings. There has been some local objection to the demolition of the old cells, but as the local community has only bad memories of the GDR-era prison, it is unclear whether this will prevent any total demolition.
There is no memorial at the prison for the many who suffered and died there during the Nazi Regime.
Carr, Gilly; Sanders, Paul; Willmot Louise: Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation, 1940-1945, Bloomsbury Academic, London & New York, 2014.
Falla, Frank: The Silent War, New English Library, 1974.
Möller, Jürgen: Kriegsende an Saale und Unstrut April 1945 (in German), Verlag Rockstuhl, Bad Langensalza, 2013.
City of Naumburg, email communications with cemetery director Andreas Legall, 22. March 2016.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Western Europe Administration, email communications with communications coordinator Erna Rondelez-Vandooren, 21 March 2016.
Hessisches Hauptarchiv, Wiesbaden, Germany. Prisoner records from Frankfurt-Preungesheim Prison:
Statistisches Reichsamt (publisher): Amtliches Verzeichnis für das Großdeutsche Reich, Verlag für Sozialpolitik, Wirtschaft und Statistik, Paul Schmidt, 2. expanded edition, Berlin, 1944.
The National Archives (TNA), Foreign Office (FO):
TNA FO HNP/400 (Duquemin)
TNA FO 950/978 (Falla)
TNA FO HNP/1402 (Fox)
TNA FO HNP/1196 (Gillingham)
TNA FO HNP/1197 (Legg)
TNA FO HNP/1533 (Marsh)
TNA FO HNP/1407 (Querée)
TNA FO 950/1400 (Page)
TNA FO 950/1260 (Paisnel)
TNA FO 950/1254 (Tierney)
Naumburg Museum, List of Foreign Dead 1942-1945. Compiled from sources in the Naumburg City Archives.
Sieling, H. (Publisher): Anschriftenbuch der Stadt Naumburg (Saale), 1939-1940 (Address-Book, in German), Naumburg (Saale), 1939.