The secret romance of two Jersey artists during the Occupation

Credit: ITV Channel

Claude Cahun is well known as a groundbreaking French photographer who moved to Jersey just before the outbreak of World War Two.  

Born Lucy Schwob, Claude Cahun adopted a gender neutral artistic name alongside her lifelong partner Suzanne Malherbe, who called herself Marcel Moore. 

They met as teenagers and were able to live together as step-sisters but their love story had to stay hidden. 

Lucy Layton, from Jersey Heritage, said: "By all accounts it was love at first sight, people at the time would not have realised they had this love affair. They worked and lived together and they really were the most important person in each other's lives."

They moved to St Brelade where they bought a house in the late 1930s and took an active part in the resistance during the German Occupation.

They were imprisoned and even sentenced to death, but were freed when the Channel Islands were liberated. 

Lucy Layton said: "It put a huge strain on their relationship. They were held separately and Claude did actually say that one of the things she was looking forward to when they stood trial was actually being reunited in the courtroom with Suzanne."

Much of their work is stored at Jersey Archive and Claude Cahun's photography is regularly exhibited around the world. 

It comes as Jersey marks LGBTQ+ History Month this February. 

Vic Tanner Davy, from Liberate Jersey, said: "You've got the added thing of women's history being a hidden history as well as for lesbians. So it is really important that we have a month where we can start to investigate these stories and tell these stories."