Islanders ‘should be proud of how we remember’

Lord Eric Pickles lays a wreath during the Slave and Forced Workers Commemoration ceremony Picture: James Jeune (38016139)

A CEREMONY honouring the memory of forced and slave workers who suffered during the Occupation took place at Westmount yesterday afternoon.

The Lieutenant-Governor, Vice-Admiral Jerry Kyd, as well as the Bailiff, Sir Timothy Le Cocq, a number of politicians and some of the descendants of forced and slave workers were among those who gathered for the event.

It has been held on Liberation Day since the mid-1960s and is open to anyone who wishes to remember and pay respects to the thousands who were forced to work or were enslaved during the Occupation.

Organiser Gary Font – son of Spanish Republican forced worker Francisco Font – also welcomed the UK Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues, Lord Eric Pickles, as well as Tracey Williams and Lt Col Tim Daniels of the Royal British legion’s Jersey Branch.

Last year it was announced that Lord Pickles would lead a review into the number of prisoners who died in Alderney during the Occupation.

Nearly 40 wreaths were laid during yesterday’s ceremony, which took place in the grounds of the Crematorium.

The Slave and Forced Workers Commemoration ceremony is held in the grounds of the crematorium at Westmount each year Picture: James Jeune (38016141)

Mr Font said: “We come here today on the 79th anniversary of our Liberation to remember over 100 foreign forced workers who perished and those who were persecuted on this Island during the German Occupation.

“Those who we commemorate were laid to rest where we stand today, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Russians, Polish, French, Belgians, Spanish Republicans, Moroccans, Algerians and Tunisians. We also remember the persecution of the Jewish people in Jersey on British soil.

“We call to mind those who perished in our sister island of Guernsey and the inhumane treatment and atrocities in the death camps of Alderney and the thousands of slave workers who passed through the Channel Islands during the Occupation. We stand here today for them.”

Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham was among the wreath layers paying respects at the Slave and Forced Workers Commemoration ceremony Picture: James Jeune (38016137)

Mr Font also paid homage to the men and women of the armed forces “who paid the ultimate sacrifice freeing our Island and the world from tyranny”.

He added: “We must also call to mind the Islanders who were persecuted and those sent to German camps, 21 Islanders were never to return.

“Since 1965 the people of Jersey have come to this place, ‘The Strangers Cemetery’ as it was known.”

Mr Font also made reference to the many memorials across the Island, honouring both civilians and military personnel who lost their lives during the Second World War.

He continued: “Each year on Holocaust Memorial Day, at the Lighthouse Memorial, at Jersey Harbour, Islanders remember and commemorate the 12 million who were systematically persecuted and put to death, and the counting goes on in our sister island of Alderney only very recently, and the numbers are hopefully to be confirmed.”

He added that Islanders “should be proud of how we remember”.

“Civilians and parish officials determined to raise such memorials backed by the Bailiff’s Office bring us together to do what is right, so that those who have given so much and those who were never given the chance to experience life and freedom as we do standing here today, will be forever be remembered,” he said.

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