The German occupation of the Channel Islands lasted for most of World War II, from 30 June 1940 until liberation on 9 May 1945. The Bailiwick of Jersey and Bailiwick of Guernsey are two British Crown dependencies in the English Channel, near the coast of Normandy. The Channel Islands were the only de jure part of the British Empire to be occupied by Nazi Germany during the war.
Anticipating a swift victory over Britain, the occupying German forces initially experimented by using a relatively moderate approach to the non-Jewish population, supported by local collaborators. However, as time progressed the situation grew gradually worse, leading to forced labour, mass deportations and ending in near starvation for both occupied and occupiers during the winter of 1944.
On 28 June 1940, the Germans sent a squadron of bombers over the islands and bombed the harbours of Guernsey and Jersey. In St. Peter Port, the main town of Guernsey, some lorries lined up to load tomatoes for export to England were mistaken by the reconnaissance flights for troop carriers. A similar attack occurred in Jersey where nine died. In total, 44 islanders were killed in the raids. The BBC broadcast a belated message that the islands had been declared "open towns" and later in the day reported the German bombing of the island.
While the Wehrmacht was preparing Operation Grünpfeil (Green Arrow), a planned invasion of the islands with assault troops comprising two battalions, a reconnaissance pilot, Hauptmann Liebe-Pieteritz, made a test landing at Guernsey's deserted airfield on 30 June to determine the level of defence. He reported his brief landing to Luftflotte 3 which came to the decision that the islands were not defended. A platoon of Luftwaffe airmen was flown that evening to Guernsey by Junkers transport planes. Inspector Sculpher of the Guernsey police went to the airport carrying a letter signed by the bailiff stating that "This Island has been declared an Open Island by His Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom. There are no armed forces of any description. The bearer has been instructed to hand this communication to you. He does not understand the German language." He found that the airport had been taken over by the Luftwaffe. The senior German officer, Major Albrecht Lanz, asked to be taken to the island's chief man. They went by police car to the Royal Hotel where they were joined by the bailiff, the president of the controlling committee, and other officials. Lanz announced through an interpreter that Guernsey was now under German occupation. In this way the Luftwaffe pre-empted the Wehrmacht's invasion plans. Jersey surrendered on 1 July. Alderney, where only a handful of islanders remained, was occupied on 2 July and a small detachment travelled from Guernsey to Sark, which surrendered on 4 July. The first shipborne German troops consisting of two anti-aircraft units, arrived in St. Peter Port on the captured freighter SS Holland on 14 July.