ISSUE 15, October 2005
Editorial
Historic: Nelson and Freemasonry
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's Speech
Grand Lodge: Quarterly Communication
Hurricane Katrina: Grand Charity Relief Chest
Royal Arch: John Knight
Masonic Embroidery: A stitch in time...
Travel: Walzing along the Danube
Specialist Lodges: Martial arts
Library & Museum: The two Freemasons' Halls
    Anniversary: Jersey's Liberation
Anniversary: Dorset's 225 years
Obituaries: Lord Swansea OSM
Pro Grand Master: Whither directing our course?
Charmian Hussey: A Mason's wife on Masonry
International: The Grand Lodge of Israel
Education: Sheffield's big plans
Education: Forthcoming events
Education: The Second Degree
Masonic Charities
Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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    The story of Jersey’s occupation by the Nazis is unique not only in Masonic terms, but in the history of World War II, because it took place on the only part of British territory occupied by German forces during that conflict.
     It would have been impossible to attempt to defend the Islands, in the case of Jersey just 12 miles from the west coast of France, without incurring an unacceptable level of civilian casualties.
     It was therefore announced that, as the Islands might be occupied, arrangements would be made to evacuate those who wished to leave. It was an agonising decision, but for Freemasons (and there were over a thousand each in Jersey and Guernsey) especially so, knowing of the persecution of German Freemasons under Hitler.
     But Freemasons would have been even more apprehensive had they known of the Führer’s order in September 1939 for the compilation of a list of British subjects and European exiles, the Sonderfahndungsliste GB (Special Search List GB) – known as the Black Book – who were to be taken into what was euphemistically termed ‘protective custody’ in the event of a successful invasion of Great Britain.
     This was brought home to me vividly recently when, through the good offices of Roy Townsend, I was able to obtain a copy of the Last Will and Testament of the Provincial Grand Master (PGM) of Jersey in those days, Charles Edward Malet de Carteret.
     Significantly, the will was signed on 1 July 1940, the day enemy forces landed in Jersey. So far as we are able to gather, he had never previously made a will. The PGM must have wondered what might have been in store for him and other members of the Craft still in the Islands.
     But the atmosphere was much more relaxed than had been expected, mainly because the German troops were in high spirits and friendly, as they were convinced that the occupation of Great Britain was but a few days away. And while some restrictions were harsh, for instance remaining Jewish shops had to display notices to this effect, proclamations issued by the occupying authorities were conciliatory if not, in some respects, almost bizarre.
     For instance, one said that ‘prayers could be said for the British Royal Family and the welfare of the British Empire’. Likewise ‘while the National Anthem was not to be sung without permission, it could be listened to on the radio’. However, for Freemasons the future must have seemed uncertain.
     The PGM was anxious that nothing was done to make life more difficult for his members, and was informed by the German military authorities that, provided no further meetings were held and the Masonic temple locked up, nothing would be done to interfere with the building or its contents.
     Relying on this, and the proclamation issued on the first day of the Occupation which stated that ‘in the event of peaceful surrender the lives, property and liberty of peaceful inhabitants is solemnly guaranteed’, the PGM readily complied. Furthermore, he instructed that all the beautiful furniture and fittings in the temple and the thousands of priceless and irreplaceable items in the splendid library and museum should remain in situ.
     Unfortunately for Freemasons, the solemn undertaking in the proclamation proved untenable, because soon after the establishment of the regular German troops more sinister forces, bent on pursuing the Nazi vendetta against Freemasonry, were despatched to Jersey.
     The first indication that something was afoot which did not augur well was the unannounced arrival at the Masonic temple on 19 November 1940 of the Secret Field Police – the Geheim Feld Polizei – who demanded from the caretaker the keys of all the rooms in the building, and proceeded to place seals on all the doors. Then, on Thursday, 23 January 1941, a squad of special troops, or Einsatzstab, arrived from France and proceeded to take an inventory of the contents and also to photograph the main rooms including the temple.
     This led to the despatch of further squads of Einsatzstab from Berlin, who commenced the systematic looting and pillaging of the building on 27 January 1941. All the main pieces of furniture, the many beautiful furnishings and the whole of the contents of the library and museum were stripped out, loaded on to lorries and shipped out of the Island.
     Anything which the looters did not want was either smashed and left lying around or piled in great heaps in the caretaker’s garden and burnt. Photographs taken immediately after the building was repossessed by the Masonic authorities in 1945 indicate the scale of the devastation inflicted.



Above:
Empty wine bottles stacked in the Jersey Masonic centre by the German occupation forces


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