No evidence Alderney was a ‘mini-Auschwitz’, research finds

Screenshot, Four work camps were established in Alderney, named after the German islands Borkum, Helgoland, Norderney and Sylt.

  • Author, Ben Chapple
  • Role, BBC News, Guernsey

Claims that thousands of people died in Nazi camps on the British island of Alderney or that it was a “mini-Auschwitz” are unfounded, a panel of experts has found.

The inquiry ordered by Lord Pickles found that probably between 641 and 1,027 people had died in the five years of “brutality, sadism and murder” of Nazi rule on Channel Island.

This figure is higher than the figure of 389 given by researchers after the liberation of the island in 1945.

The full report of the review, which aimed to “put an end to conspiracies and misinformation surrounding this crucial period in history”, will be published at 11:00 BST.

Alderney is the northernmost of the inhabited Channel Islands, which were demilitarized by the British before being occupied by the Germans in June 1940.

Most of Alderney’s 1,500 residents had been evacuated to the United Kingdom, but a small number remained, living an often precarious existence in the shadow of forced labor or slave camps.

Forced laborers and slaves were housed in four camps across the island, which is 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) long and 1.5 miles wide.

They had been brought from all over Europe to build fortifications as part of the German war effort.

The panel, made up of 11 experts, says they were subjected to atrocious living and working conditions and, in some cases, executions.

The experts had access to archives from across Europe, including Russia and Ukraine, and from Israel, to support their conclusions.

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, The investigation aimed to put an end to conspiracy theories about this period in history by establishing as clear a number of deaths as possible.

Their calculations found that the minimum number of prisoners or workers sent to Alderney was between 7,608 and 7,812.

They said they were confident that the death toll in Alderney was unlikely to have exceeded 1,134 people, with the most likely range of deaths between 641 and 1,027.

The review panel concluded that there was no evidence that thousands of victims had died and that claims that Alderney constituted a “mini-Auschwitz” were unfounded.

Lord (Eric) Pickles, UK special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, said: “I have come across a lot of discussion about the figures.

“Nothing compares to the vitriol or personal nature of the discussions about numbers in Alderney.

“At a time when parts of Europe are trying to whitewash their history through the Holocaust, the British Isles must tell the unvarnished truth.

“Numbers do matter. It is both a distortion of the Holocaust to exaggerate the number of deaths and to underestimate them.

“Exaggeration favors Holocaust deniers and undermines the six million dead. The truth can never harm us.”

Screenshot, Alderney residents erected plaques in Russian, Hebrew, Polish, French and Spanish at the Hammond Memorial to remember the slaves and forced laborers who died.

Professor Anthony Glees, who was appointed special adviser to Lord Pickles, found that the post-war investigations by Captain Theodore Pantcheff and others had been “entirely serious in intent”.

The panel reported that it had discovered that the case had been handed over to the Russians because most of the victims were Soviet citizens. In return, the British received, and were brought to justice, the Germans who murdered the British military who had participated in the Great Escape from Stalag Luft III.

He said that the Soviet Union had failed to follow up on the Alderney case and had therefore been responsible for not bringing the perpetrators to justice, causing much anger among members of the British government.

Panel chair Dr Paul Sanders said the inquiry had brought together a team of experts from several countries and disciplines.

He said: “They were able to develop synergies, on a scale and level that is unlikely to be repeated again. I am proud to have been part of this unique effort.”

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