Stolen WW2 files returned to Jersey after 21 years

Jersey Archive The documents will be stored in environmentally controlled conditions at Jersey Archive

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Jersey Occupation files, which were stolen in 1992 and thought lost forever, have been recovered and returned to the island.

Approximately 500 papers were tracked down to Guernsey, having changed hands several times among people who seem not to have known their worth.

The documents, in English and German, were originated in the Bailiff's Chambers during World War Two.

They represent 2% of the total wartime collection, of which 5% remain missing.

Tyres for shoes

Linda Romeril, archives and collections director at Jersey Heritage, said: "We were just alerted by a private individual who'd been offered them for sale, so we alerted the police and they took it from there."

The files contain details of the treatment of Jewish people in Jersey during the occupation, including the sale of Jewish businesses.

They also documented the use of old motor tyres as shoes towards the end of the occupation, when supplies to the Channel Islands were restricted as a result of the Normandy landings.

Ms Romeril said the majority of the papers had been written by the Feldkommandant - the senior German officer overseeing Jersey's occupation - along with translations to English and further letters written by then Bailiff Sir Alexander Coutanche.

Unique history

The wider collection was inscribed on the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register in 2011.

Jersey's present Bailiff, Sir Michael Birt, thanked all those involved in their recovery, "especially the police in Jersey and Guernsey".

"These documents are a unique part of Jersey's written history and they can now be cared for and studied by current and future generations," he said.

Jersey Police appealed to anyone who knew where the remaining 5% of the papers might be, to contact them directly or via Crimestoppers, so they could be returned.

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