Jersey Occupation: 'My mother slept with the enemy'

  • Published
Pauline Botting and picture of Paul Klimaszewski
Image caption,
Pauline Botting returned to Jersey to learn more from those who knew her father

A woman whose father served with enemy forces during World War Two has decided to investigate after keeping it a secret for decades.

Pauline Botting was born in occupied Jersey in 1944 and a blank space was left under "father" on her birth certificate.

Her mother Olive Le Brun never revealed his true identity and was "obviously very ashamed".

Her father Paul Klimaszewski is thought to have been a Polish conscript.

"I've carried it with me for years and done a cover-up job. But now I think, at 75, what does it matter?" she said.

"It would actually be nice to know [what happened] before I pop my clogs."

It was only when Ms Botting applied for a passport at 18 years old that she saw her birth certificate for the first time.

"I didn't even know I was illegitimate. I was led to believe that my father had died," she said.

Image caption,
A blank space was left for Pauline's father's name
Image source, Pauline Botting
Image caption,
Paul Klimaszewski is thought to have been a Polish conscript

A photograph of Mr Klimaszewski was discovered in the possessions of Ms Botting's late maternal grandfather during the 1970s.

He was one of thousands of German army soldiers who invaded the Channel Islands in 1940, under the direction of Hitler.

Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by the German forces in World War Two, and remained so until their liberation in 1945.

Women who spent time with the soldiers were known as "Jerry-Bags" and were shunned.

"The shame of being illegitimate 75 years ago is horrendous, but being the child of a member of the Occupation was even worse", Ms Botting said.

"I've got friends who I've known for 50 years who have no idea of my secret."

Image source, Pauline Botting
Image caption,
Olive Le Brun was in her early twenties when she fell pregnant with Pauline

Mr Klimaszewski was an assistant to an officer stationed at the Le Brun family's house, which he visited daily.

When Ms Le Brun fell pregnant, she was ostracized by family and friends.

Her cousin Gladys Vautier was a child when Ms Le Brun fell in love with the soldier. Ms Botting met Ms Vautier for the first time in February when she returned to Jersey from Somerset to learn more about her father.

"I'm very sorry, Pauline, that you have not been able to know us all, and for we to know you," Ms Vautier said.

Image caption,
Pauline met her second cousin Gladys Vautier for the first time in February

Mr Klimaszewski was posted to France before his daughter was born.

"He was a lovely chap. I think the German wanted to marry your mother," said Joan Syvret-Thompson, a neighbour of Ms Le Brun at the time.

Ms Botting said she had caught "a glimpse of the human person" and it had helped her with a "mystery that has plagued me for 75 years".

You can see more on this story on BBC Inside Out on BBC One in the South West and Channel Islands at 19:30 GMT on Monday 24 February, and afterwards on BBC iPlayer.