On 9 May 2020, it will be 75 years since Jersey was liberated from occupation and the end of the Second World War. The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied during the war, and their conquest was viewed by the occupying forces as a stepping-stone to the full invasion of Britain. This year’s anniversary – Liberation 75 – is especially important as it provides an opportunity to share the stories of those who lived through The Occupation. As such, Liberation 75, promises to be the largest and most extensive celebration of Jersey that we have ever hosted. A varied programme of events and projects are planned that span art, culture, sport and education.
The official Liberation 75 logo is inspired by the first-hand account of Islander, Enid de Gruchy, who was born on 28 February 1941. Enid was four when Jersey was liberated and is alive and well today. She recalls going into St. Helier on Liberation Day with her family and a soldier giving her, her first ever sweet. A few weeks later when food packages were imported into the Island, she was given an orange. She remembers this clearly because it was the first orange she had ever seen, and she didn’t know what to do with it. Fittingly, the logo portrays not only the handing over of Liberation to future generations, but symbolises the meaning of Liberation, its experiences and emotions.
The designer of the official Liberation 75 campaign logo is Enid’s granddaughter, Emma Le Gallais who works for the Government of Jersey Marketing Team.
In addition to Liberation Day, a programme of exclusive, celebratory events and outreach projects has been produced by the Liberation 75 team and official partners. You can find out more about what’s on at Liberation75.je, but below is a snapshot of the highlights:
- Operation Outreach – Bringing senior citizens who lived through the Occupation and school students together, providing an opportunity for survivors to relay their accounts to the next generation
- Liberation Village – A unique, three-day celebration featuring numerous entertainment, food and activity zones and themed days
- VE75 Festival – A family-friendly festival located in beautiful St. Brelade’s Bay, celebrating Victory in Europe Day
- Jersey Week – A Jersey-wide ‘open house’, showing how both public and private organisations contribute to the Island, providing insight into the history, operation and position of each organisation in Jersey
- Liberation 75 Film Festival – Featuring one film screening located in each parish. Members of the public will get to vote on which films make the final cut!
These events and projects were informed by a public consultation group. The group met in January 2019 and was made up of 72 members of the public – ranging from members of Occupation interest groups to individuals from creative and cultural organisations, and from senior citizens to students from every higher education school in Jersey. The key themes from the consultation were:
- Desire to keep the memory of Liberation Day going, handing over the knowledge from senior citizens to younger generations
- Key groups identified who should be included where practicable: acknowledgement of those who remained on-Island during the Occupation, evacuees, deportees, internees, slave workers and veterans of the Armed Forces
- Increase the recognition of the wartime experiences of Jersey and the wider Channel Islands, both locally and internationally
- Liberation Day is a day of thanks and national pride, celebration and remembrance
- Liberation events should not be political
- The Channel Islands must forgive but never forget
Deputy Kevin Pamplin, who chaired the Liberation 75 working group in 2019, says, “Liberation Day is a time for remembrance of those who endured the Occupation and the Second World War, as well as a time for celebration. I am privileged to have met several survivors and their relatives over the past year, and to have heard their incredible and moving first-hand accounts. Liberation 75 provides a final opportunity for these first-hand experiences to be handed down to the younger generations, so that Liberation Day is not just seen as an extra day off work or school. It is a time to remember those who suffered during Occupation and to celebrate our freedom – the freedom that we still enjoy today.
“Liberation 75 also reminds us of the importance of forgiveness and inclusivity in our community. The Liberation 75 programme of celebratory events has been designed for everyone, no matter their age, ethnicity, sex, sexuality, income or background. 2020 will see the biggest and best anniversary celebrations ever held in Jersey, for one and all.”
The Bailiff, Mr Timothy Le Cocq, says, “Working closely with my Chambers, the Liberation 75 working group has been the conduit to pull all interested parties together over the past few months. I am grateful for their work and commitment to establishing such an interesting programme for 2020. It is one I hope will ensure that all Islanders will have an opportunity to remember, learn about and celebrate Liberation Day, and to think about and be proud of Jersey and its identity.
“This anniversary year will be an important time, not only for our senior citizens who had first-hand experience of the Second World War, but also for our younger generations who will ensure the memory and lessons of 1945 are carried forward – it is important that we carry the value of freedom, peace and inclusivity and learn the lessons of The Occupation.”
Thursday 9 January also sees the launch of the official Liberation 75 website – Liberation75.je – as well as the campaign’s official social media channels. We invite businesses, organisations and individuals to tell us about their respective Liberation 75 events by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. This is so that we can advertise them via the Liberation75 website and social media. We also invite those on social media to join the Liberation conversation at #Lib75 and to follow us at @Lib75Jsy on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.