A MEMORIAL ceremony to honour thousands of people ‘enslaved to a brutal regime’ during the Occupation took place at Westmount as part of yesterday’s Liberation Day proceedings.
The service, which is held annually in memory of the roughly 16,000 prisoners of war and civilians who suffered at the hands of the Germans, took place in the grounds of the Crematorium.
The Lieutenant-Governor, Vice-Admiral Jerry Kyd, as well as the Bailiff, Sir Timothy Le Cocq, several States Members and some of the descendants of forced and slave workers were among those in attendance.
Organiser Gary Font, son of Spanish Republican forced worker Francisco Font, also welcomed representatives from Germany – including the Mayor of Bad Wurzach, Frau Alexandra Scherer, and the Mayor of Dorston, Tobias Stockhoff.
Mr Font said: ‘Since 1965 the people of Jersey have come to this place – “The Strangers Cemetery” as it was known – at 3pm on Liberation Day every year to remember those who were enslaved to a brutal regime who never returned to their home.
‘The founders of this memorial were a group of communist and left-wing individuals – Norman Le Brocq, Stella Perkins, Francis Le Sueur, Henny Prax and a group of former forced workers, mostly Spanish Republicans. They were determined that these men, and in many cases young boys – as young as 16, starving and regularly beaten – were never to be forgotten.’
He explained that the memorial had been built in 1972 with three plaques on display but that more had been added over the years – including most recently a sign to honour the Ukrainian labourers ‘which takes its rightful place in this memorial’.
‘We stand together from all walks of life – people from different nations, religions – remembering man’s inhumanity to man,’ Mr Font continued.
‘I hope the young people who are here today will learn from what we do and what has happened in the past and hopefully will change the world again for a better one. We must hope for no more new memorials; we all know this may be some time away.’