Guernsey Press

‘How did my father get to be in Guernsey?’

A Dutchman is trying to solve the mystery of why his father, a postman, was in Guernsey during World War II.

Last updated
Nicolaas Spaan, seen here in the 1970s, was thought to have been in Guernsey during the Occupation. (33096470)

Nickolaus Spaan was 22 years old when the Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. At the time, he was working for the Dutch post office in Rotterdam.

Mr Spaan senior died in 2011 at the age of 93, but before that told his son, Nico Spaan, who is now 68, that he had been in Guernsey during part of the Occupation and had fled with the help of an Englishman.

‘What was he doing there? It seems to me that he must have been there for a few months because he went back to visit the island in 2004.’

Like many Dutch men, he was sent to work in Germany as part of the ‘Arbeitseinsatz’, the drafting of civilians for forced labour brought in once the war turned in the Allies’ favour.

Mr Spaan junior has been researching his family history and is unsure of the dates his father could have been in Guernsey, but from his research he might have been employed by the Organisation Todt, although according to other paperwork he still appeared to work in postal services.

Todt was the civil and military engineering organisation named after its founder, Fritz Todt, who was a senior member of the Nazi Party. The organisation was responsible for the construction of many of the structures built in the Channel Islands during the occupation and was notorious for using forced labour.

‘In 1943 he had to go to Germany because of work, where thousands were forced to go,’ he said.

‘But I saw that he went back to the Netherlands at the end of December and married my mother there. I didn’t know how that was possible and that it could be so easy. I want to know if he was good or evil. I don’t care about the answer, I would just like to know the story of how he got to Guernsey?’