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Memories of a Second World War internment camp
Behind Barbed Wire
The internment camps were surrounded by high barbed wire fences

The Occupation of Guernsey during the Second World War remains a defining feature of the island's landscape.

But as well as the locally based reminders many islanders have memories of their time spent in internment camps in Germany.

In March 2010 an exhibition opened of items made at these camps, by some of the more than 1,000 Guernsey deportees.

After looking through the exhibition some former deportees shared their stories of life in the camps.

Michael Martel

Michael's memories of internment

Like most of the survivors still alive in 2010 to tell their tale Michael Martel was only a young child when he and his immediate family were deported in 1942.

Michael's family were deported due to the fact his father was born in England and held a British passport and moved around several internment camps, including Biberach, between 1942 and 1945.

Whilst in the camp both Michael's mother and father were kept busy using the skills learnt in their previous trades.

His father was a cobbler and so used those skills to help others in the camp as well as making things out of any spare material he could find including toys for the children in the camp.

Gill Chubb

Gill's memories of Biberach camp

Gill Chubb's family were also deported to a camp owing to their English patriarch and following a traumatic journey ended up at Biberach.

Whilst at the camp Gill said she was "terrified of the Germans" and that the Gestapo "were like big black birds" with their long black leather coats and caps.

The camp was liberated by Free French and American troops who gave the children rides on their trucks and vans and chocolate, which Gill said the children all shared.

She said: "It gave me a strength, if you can get through that you can get through other things in life."

Despite the bad parts of her time in the camp Gill said she learnt about gardening in the camp's flower garden where she "felt safe and secure".

Yvonne Osborn and Doreen Brouard

Yvonne and Doreen recall Biberach

Yvonne and Doreen were 19 years old when they were deported to Biberach in 1942 and both remember celebrating their 21st birthdays in the internment camp. Yvonne said: "People did something [to celebrate] made a little cake or something."

During her time at the camp Yvonne was involved in theatrical performances staged by the detainees and also had time to read much more than she would have done otherwise, she said: "I don't think I'd ever have read Jane Austen."

Doreen had a different view of her time at the camp. She said: "I was robbed of my teenage years."

She said whilst at the camp all the people she knew there stuck together and the young women like her would help the mothers with their children.

When they were liberated in 1945 and returned to Guernsey Doreen said: "It was a glorious site to see Guernsey."

WWII internment items on display
13 Mar 10 |  Guernsey
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09 Mar 10 |  History
An instrument from the Occupation
01 Mar 10 |  History
Choir share culture with Biberach
12 Nov 09 |  Arts & Culture


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