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Von Schmettow

For most of the Occupation the Commanding Officer of the German garrison in the Channel Islands was General Rudolf Graf von Schmettow. A career soldier in the German Army, a Prussian aristocrat whose uncle was Field Marshal von Rundstedt, von Schmettow survived in post from September 1940 until February 1945, when he was replaced by Vice Admiral Huffmeier.

In September 1963, von Schmettow returned to Jersey to show his family ‘this beautiful island’ and agreed to be interviewed by Channel Television. He faced questions about the conditions of slave workers during the Occupation and the controversial deportation of some Islanders to internment camps in Germany…

After Graf von Schmettow’s return to Jersey, the men who had served under him started to come back. Past hatred was set aside and new friendships formed between occupiers and islanders. Those who came back in 1985, for the 40th anniversary of the Liberation, included German soldiers who had been stationed at the German fortifications at Noirmont, overlooking St Aubin’s Bay… 

What did the people of Germany know about the Occupation of the Channel Islands? Hitler knew the importance of propaganda and his film crews worked to a high standard. Among their productions was one made in 1941 which showed life in the only part of the British Isles to come under German control…

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