‘The Occupation story was right there under my nose’

A NEW documentary on the German occupation of Guernsey met with an emotional and positive response after being launched online on Sunday.

Olivia Fraser who has written, directed and produced 17-minute film Guernsey: the most fortified place in the world. (Picture by Cassidy Jones. 27-07-21 29805425)
Olivia Fraser who has written, directed and produced 17-minute film Guernsey: the most fortified place in the world. (Picture by Cassidy Jones. 27-07-21 29805425)

The 17-minute film, entitled ‘Guernsey: the most fortified place in the world’, has been written, directed and produced by local resident Olivia Fraser, who graduated this summer with a first class journalism degree from the University of Winchester.

The documentary was viewed more than 1,000 times in the first 24 hours after being posted on YouTube.

‘I just didn’t expect that,’ Miss Fraser said.

‘I’ve had feedback from islanders who were children during the Occupation – or whose parents were around during that time – saying it’s accurate and that they really enjoyed it. I think that’s what means the most.’

The film centres around personal testimony from Occupation survivors Roy Burton, Roland Duquemin and June Money, as well as recollections and information from German Occupation Museum founder Richard Heaume.

Miss Fraser carried out further research through the Priaulx Library and Visit Guernsey.

On completion of the film, which Miss Fraser also presents and narrates, it was shown to an invited audience at the Fermain Valley Hotel, which included the contributors. ‘It went really well,’ Miss Fraser said. ‘They loved it. I cried. They cried. My friends and family cried. It was just a really lovely occasion.’

The documentary originated as the final-year project of her degree, which could be on a topic of her choice.

Initially, the openness of that assignment seemed problematic.

‘I was really racking my brain thinking about what I could do over in the UK and then I thought, well, Guernsey has that great story of the German Occupation just right under my nose.’

Having decided her direction, Miss Fraser said it was surprisingly easy to make contact with islanders who had lived through the Occupation, through friends of friends and the Guernsey grapevine.

‘I had no problem with that,’ she said, ‘and my interviewees were so accommodating. They were so amazing. It was an absolute pleasure to speak to them.

‘The university assignment aside, this became such an important thing to me because I really wanted to do their stories justice.’

Her contributors provided many stories that had to be left out because of the 20-minute time limit, so she is now planning to put together a much longer film as a legacy for them and their families.

And it seems likely that Miss Fraser will be fronting further documentaries, as this sort of work has been her focus for a long time.

‘I’ve just always wanted to be a journalist,’ she said. ‘Some kids want to be princesses or doctors but I would sit in my room with my friend and write stories and present the news and the weather.

‘I need to get mind mapping and see what I can come up with next,’ she said.

n Miss Fraser’s film is available to view on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rfabhPxYgg.

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