The morning of 9th May each year in Jersey is given over to happy celebration, re-enactments, speeches and song. But later on Liberation Day a quieter and poignant ceremony takes place.
At Westmount we remember the slave and forced workers who lost their lives during the German Occupation. The slave workers, chiefly Russians, were treated appallingly and inhumanely. The death rate was high. On the other hand the forced workers, though deprived of their liberty, were at least paid and treated like fellow humans.
Today the three biggest local bigwigs were in attendance – the Bailiff, Lieutenant-Governor and First Minister. They laid the first wreaths. They were followed by representatives from Poland, France, Belgium, Spain, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Algeria and (yes) Germany. Many more followed on from worthy organisations and individuals, including one remembering the 21 islanders who never returned from Nazi concentration camps.
It’s a strange fact that, the longer since the actual events, the more determined it seems the Island becomes to remember them.