Thursday, 11 June 2009

1945 Island Kommandant

Well yesterday's post certainly ignited a little flurry of interest! But as someone commented today on the Pistonheads thread, I can't really say more yet until I've got as many facts as I can. Plus those old notes aren't mine, so I'm I'm hesitant about divulging their content without permission. More to come on that soon.

Anyway, on Pistonheads there's a number of conspiracies developing.  For those that are interested, what has been discussed today is who was in charge in Jersey at the end of the Second World War, as that might have a bearing on the German Authorities were up to just before liberation. 

In fact, in February, 1945 (around the time that the large warehouse appeared at the southern end of my property) Admiral Friedrich Huffmeier took over command of the Channel Islands. A commentator at the time recorded "The new Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Islands in February 1945, Admiral Friedrich Huffmeier, was a fanatical Nazi. “We shall never surrender,” he told Jersey’s Bailiff Alexander Coutanche. “In the end you and I will be eating grass."

Huffmeier is also credited with arranging, in the spring of 1945, several daring raids on a nearby French sea port, which was at the time under the control of the allies, even though the end of the war was looming. Wikipedia entry.

This was all at a time when Jersey was one of the most heavily fortified places in Europe.

And what was Huffmeier's plan for the Island with Nazi surrender imminent in Europe? Well, apparently it was to defend it to the end!

The book "Britain under the Jackboot" records that:-

"A "very bad" German was Vice Admiral Friedrich Huffmeier, a fanatical Nazi, of gaunt appearance, whose long admiral's greatcoat gave the impression of a shroud. He carried a large, bulging briefcase which somehow added to the sense of macabre. Huffmeier was sent to the islands in the autumn of 1944, officially as Seekommandant, but unofficially as the eyes and ears of Berlin. In February 1945, he replaced yon Schmettow as commander in chief--von Schmettow having been ordered to return to Germany for being "soft" on the islanders. It is said there was a botched plot, apparently involving von Aufsess, to kill him. 

A month before the war ended Huffmeier addressed a mass meeting in the Forum cinema, where he explained the importance of defending the Channel Islands. An attack by the British and Americans might at any moment put them in the front line. They must prepare for this hour spiritually and materially; the more desperate the times the more united they must be. 

After the death of Hitler, Huffmeier berated the skipper of a Red Cross vessel, which was in port, for not flying his flag at half-mast. Later that day an Allied ship appeared and signalled proposals for surrender. He replied: "Ihr Angeboot ist uberflussig" ("Your request is superfluous", or colloquially, "Get lost"). Huffmeier apparently believed that the islands--being "British"--could be used in bargaining to gain better terms for a defeated Germany. 

On 8th May, as Churchill formally announced the surrender of the rest of Germany, a similar demand was put to Huffmeier. His representative, a nervous young naval officer, Armin Zimmerman (who later held senior rank in NATO), kept the rendezvous with the ships HMS Bulldog and HMS Beagle. Taking a deep breath, he told the British he had been authorised to discuss an "armistice", not a "surrender". His hosts replied that it was surrender or nothing. Zimmerman took another deep breath and said his instructions were that the British must withdraw or they would be fired upon. 

The two ships retired to a safe distance. That night saner voices pressured Huffmeier to change his mind. The ships returned; Huffmeier threatened to open fire when they arrived before the appointed time. Generalmajor Heine, Huffmeier's deputy, signed the surrender document. Huffmeier could not bring himself to attend. It was left to von Aufsess to announce, at a hastily convened meeting of Channel Island elders: "Der Krieg ist zu Ende, und in den Kanalinseln auch" ("The war is over, and in the Channel Islands too"). Thus it was that the European war ended in the Channel Islands a day later that it ended anywhere else. 

HMS Beagle returned on 12th May, and took Huffmeier into formal custody. His last order, which was disobeyed, was that his men should greet the British with Nazi salutes."

23 comments:

Mary said...

I'm eagerly awaiting to hear how this bunker is linked to Huffmeier (which one would assume to be the case given your post), but I do feel you're being overdramatically selective in your description of the man.

Yes, Huffmeier was a passionate and loyal Nazi, but he also had a record of being disliked and distrusted by the various crews he had commanded at sea.

Why? Not because he was a strict and coldy efficient Nazi taskmaster, but because of his incompetence as a Naval commander. He ran his own ships around, sank his own ship, hit things he shouldn't have hit etc. etc.

It's safe to say that as a seaborne commander Huffmeier was a man who was more likely to leave his own crew fearing for their lives and safety than those of the enemy!

It's also interesting to note that whilst in command over here Huffmeier was known by his subordinates as "the madman of the Channel Islands".

tagskie said...

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Peter said...

bump!

Jonno said...

**BUMP**

Eagerly awaiting an update!!! Its been 4months since the last one... really need to know your progress :) Rgds, Jon (Australia)

shyne said...

Waiting for an update, too.
This is so fascinating. I can't imagine finding such a historical treasure in my yard.

Shyne...USA

PA said...

This is your November bump.

Robin said...

My wife and I are eagerly awaiting updates on the bunker. We've been following your posts for a long time and the suspense is killing us!

Also, my wife would like to extend particular greetings to Dave.

Merry Christmas to you both from Canada.

6p00d834212b3b53ef said...

And another bump- update, please!!

jaye said...

hay CY88 im from new zealand and i am wondering why 2010 has had zero post's we are keen to know what is going on, or even an update saying that you are on some side project or research, anything to keep us at bay.

thanks for your time and effot

jaye

Julian said...

No updates this year?

spoon said...

This article has been over dramatized to the use/big secret of this "bunker".

By looking at the video's and photo's,this is a standard air raid bunker,it's a corrugated steel lined make-shift concrete bunker to shelter vehicles and troops for one or two reasons.
1.For vehicles and troops "on route" or "stationed" near the tunnel to take shelter under the initial bombing runs that would have taken place.(example. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Constellation )
2. Strategically placed "mobile resistance units",vehicles and troops wait,hidden from the air, their role was to slow the advance of the invading allies or force them to deviate to a "trap" destination.

There were plenty of air raid shelters for the islands civilians, German troops,vehicle repair depots and storage tunnels but not much for smaller military vehicles.

If the commander was a "fanatic Nazi" then he would never have surrendered jersey and there-for have prepared for the very likely invasion similar to the affect of "operation constellation".This bunker is a late addition with the limited supplies available to the German forces to prepare for the battle of jersey. In late 1944 many additional bunkers were ordered by Adolf Hitler's chief defense staff to even further fortify the channel islands “impregnable fortress”.Bunkers were frantically built in many parts of the island after D'Day, to fill gaps and make use of the stranded equipment that was meant to be sent from Jersey to other places on along the Atlantic wall prior to D.Day.

Simon
Jersey

spoon said...

Trivia....

The only way to identify this bunker is to speak to the local "channel island occupation society",they have various German maps of the island fortification.After the war approx 4,000 German troops remained on the island to "make it safe" and remove the bombs, mines, flame throwers barb wire and traps...
all ammunition and large weapons were dumped in deep water off Jersey and Guernsey, (Still marked on naval maps today).Other weaponry was destroyed for scrap metal.What was not bumped at sea or scrapped was put into the tunnels and the tunnel entrances blown up.In the seventies roomers of great German relics and artefacts to be found made the younger population open/raide bunkers,sadly this was often fatal for many reasons so,the "states of Jersey" decided to empty the bunkers of any remaining artefacts.Also at this time there was a big scrap drive and many of the bunkers that had been sealed for years were reopened and had any steel objects cut free. Usually every large items like doors and frames,shutters,air vent tubing etc.Example, each door would bare a serial number and year of fabrication. This often helps identify bunkers. Occasionally some items were left inside,usually rotten lanterns,helmets,shovels,welding bottles and gas mask filters,nothing more.

Simon
Jersey

dean said...

i am truly inspired by the hunt and final discovery of this wierd and intresting space, if it were my garden i would turn it into a museum then write a book about the discovery, i think the whole post has been intresting and gripping, i have been on the edge of my seat and thank all those involved for a truly great, possibly last, adventure into the mists of ww2 history, well done and good luck to you,

Diego Fer said...

Waiting for an update, this is amazing

D. Ferreira
Uruguay

Victoryperfect said...

Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good!
Kitchen Garden

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alfasud1972 said...

Any news? it's Been a while since the last update...

Hester Lacey said...

Hi there. I write regularly for the Financial Times Weekend Magazine and am wondering whether you would consider being interviewed about your bunker discovery. Would you be able to email me at hester_lacey@hotmail.com?

Many thanks
From Hester

Diego Fer said...

Any news? plz

Diego Fer said...

Waiting for an update, this is amazing, plz CY88

D. Ferreira
Uruguay

Bobbie Jennings said...

I work for a local Guernsey hotel group and one of my duties is to conduct historical (quite compact since the islands history goes back to Neolithic Man) tours of the island. In my research and according to local historians of "The Occupation of Guernsey", there is no evidence that Vice Admiral Fredriech Huffmeier was a Nazi, although it is known that he was very devoted to Hitler.

Unknown said...

CY88, plz! Are there any updates at all? I can't believe you've just let the blog sit here!

Dan Croft said...

2017 now. What happed CY88? WE NEED TO KNOW!