Day 12: 16th April 2014: Making and sharing memories
At the start of this excavation, people stopped on the pavement, peered over the ‘no entry’ sign and asked us what we were doing on Grouville Marsh as we knelt in a trench, scraping away with our trowels. Over the last few days this has changed. Since the article in the Jersey Evening Post, and the Channel TV and BBC news reports, people now call out ‘you’re excavating a forced labour camp, aren’t you?’. This makes me very satisfied. One of the key aims of the project was to raise awareness of the presence of labour camps in the Channel Islands and, through this, the plight of forced and slave labourers generally. From this point of view, I am happy that the project has been a success. I’m pleased to say that islanders have visited the dig with memories to share with me, or have emailed me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with stories. Today an 81 year old French man who lives locally came to say hello. He was very moved by what we were doing and it triggered memories of his own experience of occupied France. He said that he still feels anger towards the Germans for what they did during the war. Another local visitor came to see us with files tucked under his arm, full of information about the use of the site in the 1960s and 1970s, and kindly took us up to see the quarry where the labourers worked.
This evening I gave a public lecture at the Societe Jersiaise on the results of the dig, now that trench 4, the final trench, has been excavated, recorded and back-filled. Like trench 3, there was more evidence of building rubble from the camp: concrete, brick, iron nails. We had a big turn-out, which was lovely, and I was able to show the finds to the general public. I was also able to share the memories to the public that had been shared with me. I hope to be able to come back to Jersey later this year to finish the excavation process and to do some outreach in schools, thus sharing and making memories with and for the next generation.