History of the Jews in Guernsey

The history of the Jews in Guernsey dates back to well before the events of 1940-5. A London Jew named Abraham was described in 1277 as being from "La Gelnseye" (Guernsey). A converted Portuguese Jew, Edward Brampton, was appointed Governor of Guernsey in 1482.

Guernsey's Jewish population has historically been much smaller than that of neighboring Jersey, and there has never been a synagogue on the island.[1]

World War II

Enemy aliens, people born in a country with which Britain was at war, were restricted from entering Britain without a permit.[2]:23 Accordingly, a few Jews became trapped in Guernsey when the islands were occupied. In addition, a few locals decided to remain in Guernsey rather than evacuate in June 1940.

During the occupation of the Channel Islands by Nazi Germany during World War II, laws were imposed on the authorities that required registration. All non Guernsey and British foreigners (Aliens) had already been required to register with the police, but the records did not mention their faith. An advertisement appeared in the newspaper in October 1941 calling on all Jews to identify themselves.[3] The Germans issued identity cards to everyone, which listed their nationality and faith.

Jews identified in Guernsey and Sark

Marianne Grunfeld, born in Poland in 1912, had studied horticulture at the University of Reading before going to work on a farm in Guernsey. She was identified in April 1942 as Jewish.[4]:104 [5]:126

Therese Steiner, an Austrian, non-practicing Jew, who had come to the Islands from England and become trapped in the Islands by the invasion as she had been detained as an alien, amongst 30 enemy aliens who were arrested and detained in June 1940.[3] She didn't have a UK visa to go to the UK as required for immigrants from Germany and Austria (from 1938).[6] A qualified dental nurse, she was then employed as a nurse by the States of Guernsey, working at the Castel Hospital, She went, after 18 months to the German authorities to ask to contact her parents. This act alerted the Germans to the presence of Jews in the Island, resulting in anti-Jewish laws being forced through[7] and ultimately led to Jews being deported.

Guernsey plaque to Marianne Grunfeld, Auguste Spitz and Therese Steiner

The first group of three Jews were ordered to leave the Island in April 1942.[3] The three, Marianne Grunfeld, Auguste Spitz, and Therese Steiner, were first sent to Saint-Malo, where they took up local employment, Marianne Grunfeld was reported to be living in Laval, France,[5] until three months later when they were rounded up in a mass deportation of French Jews. They were sent directly to Auschwitz,[3] where they all died.[8]

The second group of three, Elda Brouard, Elisabet Duquemin, and Janet Duquemin (18 months old), were sent with Henry Duquemin (husband of Elisabet) in February 1943. Henry was sent to Oflag VII-C in Laufen, Germany, and the two women and baby went first to a prison in Compiègne and then after 6 months to Ilag V-B in Biberach an der Riss. Both of the camps in Laufen and Biberach were civilian camps containing many Channel Island civilians.[9]

Annie Wranowsky lived on Sark throughout the war working as a German language teacher.[10]

Sir Geoffrey Rowland, the Bailiff of Guernsey from 2005 to 2012, has stated that the government of Guernsey was powerless to stop the deportations due to the large number of German soldiers on the island.[8]


There are still some Jews living in Guernsey today, some of whom attend the congregation in Jersey.[11]

See also


  1. Shulman, David; Messik, Louise. "JCR-UK: The Channel Islands Jewish Community". JCR-UK. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  2. Hinsley, F. H. & C. A. G. Simkins. British Intelligence in the Second World War: Volume 4, Security and Counter-Intelligence. Cambridge University Press, 1990. ISBN 9780521394093.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "War-in-the-Channel-Islands" (PDF).
  4. Fraser, David. The Jews Of The Channel Islands And The Rule Of Law, 1940-1945:. Sussex Academic Press, 2000. ISBN 9781903900284.
  5. 1 2 Channel Islands Occupation Review No 34. Channel Islands Occupation Society. 2006.
  6. "Whitehall and the Jews, 1933-1948: British Immigration Policy, Jewish Refugees and the Holocaust".
  7. "The Jewish situation in Guernsey as I saw it, 1940-1945 by Guernseymuseum". BBC. 15 October 2014.
  8. 1 2 "Guernsey's Holocaust role 'should be marked'". BBC News Guernsey. BBC. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  9. "I escaped the Nazi Holocaust". Guernsey Press. 9 July 2005.
  10. Fraser, David. The Jews Of The Channel Islands And The Rule Of Law, 1940-1945: Quite Contrary To The Principles Of British Justice. Sussex Academic Press, 2000. p. 30. ISBN 9781903900284.
  11. "Jersey's Jewish community is 'in decline'". BBC News Jersey. BBC. 15 August 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
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