A PLOT, AN EXILE AND THE LIBERATION OF HERM – 12 May 1945

Oberstleutnant Hans W von Helldorf was the former aide-de-camp to Graf von Schmettow who was Commander of the Channel Islands until February 1945. You can read about how von Schmettow was ousted by Vizeadmiral Friedrich Hüffmeier here. Helldorf was part of the undermining of von Schmettow along with Hüffmeier.

Despite this he was implicated in a plot to assassinate Hüffmeier in April 1945. Each day Hüffmeier used to walk to Castle Carey and have a glass of milk. Along with others von Helldorf had planned to poison Hüffmeier but they were betrayed.

Castle Carey. Photo © Nick Le Huray

As a result von Helldorf was stripped of his rank and banished to the island of Herm pending a court martial.

The eight people who lived on the island saw him put ashore on April the 28th 1945. He was carrying a parcel containing a few personal belongings and with his head bowed walked slowly up the hill from the harbour in search of a place he might sleep.1  Accounts record him as having stayed at the Manor House on the island but was hardly ever seen to leave the house.

It was fortunate for him that the war ended before he could face the court martial as Hüffmeier, an ardent Nazi, would likely have had him shot.

The Germans only briefly had a garrison on Herm and they had left in 1942 after their flak battery had shot down one of their own aircraft. Other than this brief period where Herm had a garrison they mainly used it as a place of recreation including shooting pheasants and rabbits.

As the only German on the island on the 12th May 1945 he surrendered to a British officer that came to Herm.

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© Nick Le Huray

Footnotes

  1. Liverpool Echo and Evening Express 1 April 1965.

Author: Nick Le Huray 🇬🇬

Guernsey based amateur historian. Interested in the Occupation of the Channel Islands and wider Second World War history.

2 thoughts on “A PLOT, AN EXILE AND THE LIBERATION OF HERM – 12 May 1945”

  1. Nick, always great to read your stories. Just to add a little bit to the Herm story and i know these stories get lost in the mist of time but there were a few other German soldiers on Herm around the time of the liberation. My Gran always told the story, and i have never had cause to disbelieve her, that when she saw what was happening she went and found a flag she had hidden. She went down to the harbour when a German soldier came up to her, saluted, and took the flag and flew it from the crane, came back, saluted again and marched off without a word being said. In Dad’s book he recollects that Von Heldorf was accompanied by a couple of orderlies and that from April there was also a small detachment of troops cutting down trees at the top of Valley Panto. Not certain if they were still there on the 9th but the orderlies were. Hope this is helpful.

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