Twenty-year-old Alice Thaureux, who was sentenced to death for harbouring German soldier Nickolaus Schmitz (23) was doubly fortunate in that an appeal for mercy by the Bailiff, Alexander Coutanche, led to her sentence being commuted to ten years in prison, and because this happened within days of the Liberation, she would have been released almost immediately.
The story emerged from the wartime records of the Bailiff's Office, which have now been digitised by Jersey Archive.
Alice Thaureux was condemned to death by Military Court Martial, after she harboured and had a relationship with German soldier Nickolaus Schmitz, who had deserted the German Army.
They were both imprisoned in the German military prison following their capture, and Schmitz was court martialled and executed by firing squad on the Fort Regent parade ground on 27 April 1945 for desertion. The sentence was carried out less than a fortnight before the war ended.
In a letter to the Platzcommandant dated 25 April, the Bailiff pleaded that Alice be spared.
- "I appeal to you for mercy on behalf of Alice Thaureux, a young woman of 20 years of age, who, I am informed, has been condemned to death by Military Court Martial.
- "I have seen the father of this young woman and he has told me that for some four or five months a great friendship had arisen between his daughter and the German Soldier, in connection with whose acts she now lies under stntence to death.
- "Alice Thaureux was, it would appear, passionately in love with this Soldier.
- "A young woman in love does not always weigh the consequences of her acts, when they are dictated by what she believes, however wrongly, to be for the welfare of her lover.
- "I do not believe that Alice Thaureux is connected with any political party or that she is inspired by any political motives in the acts which she has done.
- "I appeal for mercy."
The Bailiff’s plea was successful, and Alice was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, instead of death.
She was doubly fortunate in that the sentence was imposed so late in the war. Had this happened before Jersey was cut off from France following D-Day in June 1944, she would have been sent to serve her sentence in a German prison or, most likely, a concentration camp, and would have been most unlikely to have survived.
As things turned out, she would have been released following the Liberation of the island on 9 May 1945.
Occupation historian Leslie Sinel's diary records that Alice Thaureux was originally from Guernsey. Her brother was sentenced to three months in prison for his role. Alice and her mother were allowed to attend the soldier's funeral at the Strangers Cemetery at Westmount.