The UK Government has commissioned an expert review into Nazi camps in Alderney during World War II in a move the island hopes will at last "bring clarity" to the atrocities that occurred on its soil.
The scope of the review will be revealed later this year by Lord Eric Pickles, the UK’s Special Envoy on post-Holocaust issues.
In 1940, Alderney was invaded and occupied by German troops. In 1945, it was the last place in Western Europe to be liberated, one week after Jersey and Guernsey.
During that time, the Nazis established four camps in the island: two concentration camps, Lager Norderney and Lager Sylt, and two labour camps, Lager Borjum and Lager Helgoland.
Most of the prisoners brought to Alderney were Russian or Ukrainian, but it’s known that many were Jewish, North African and Spanish as well.
After the war, an investigative unit was sent to the island to document war crimes and develop a case for prosecuting the individuals responsible. This was led by Theodore Pantcheff.
Pictured: Lager Sylt, one of the two concentration camps established in Alderney.
The number of people who died in Alderney has never been clear, with estimates ranging from hundreds to thousands, and it has led to decades of speculation, conspiracy and debate. It’s hoped the future review will put a lot of this to bed.
William Tate, President of the States of Alderney, said: “We welcome this announcement from Lord Pickles to appoint a panel of experts who are gathering all the evidence, including from those on our island who witnessed the atrocities first hand or from their descendants who hold records, and they will decide whether it possible to say how many died.
“Above all, this will bring clarity and put an end to the arguments about numbers when as an island our priority is to show our respect for those who suffered and died here, however many there were.”
Anyone who has relevant information or verifiable evidence will be able to submit to the inquiry and details as to how will be available soon.
The review has been announced in the run up to the UK taking over as chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
In 2019, the IHRA began a project to protect authentic Holocaust sites. Eight recommendations were made for protections in Alderney.
In 2021, the island hosted the Lord Eric Pickles, and an IHRA representative, Dr Gilly Carr.
They visited various sites and discussed the steps which need to be taken to protect the history of the island.
This led to a wish to create a five-year plan for Alderney – delayed due to covid – which the States of Alderney say would help the island and the IHRA “manage the narrative of the island’s history during the Nazi occupation".
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