"Nazi Fire Control Tower on Alderney" by neilalderney123 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

The number of people killed during the Nazi Occupation of Alderney is far greater than the figure previously thought, according to a new report published today, which says more than 1,000 could have perished.

A review of evidence, gathered by a panel of 13 international experts, including Cambridge archaeologist Dr Gilly Carr, has sought to give the most accurate possible assessment of how many prisoners and labourers died on the Channel Island between 1941 to 1945.

During this time, crimes were committed against forced and slave labourers, transported from countries across Europe and brought to Alderney to construct fortifications as part of the German war effort. Housed in camps that shared many of the traits of those in mainland Europe, these labourers were subject to atrocious living and working conditions, and, in some cases, executions.  

Commissioned by Lord Eric Pickles, UK Special Envoy on Post Holocaust Issues, the investigation aims to dispel conspiracy theories and provide the most accurate figure possible of those who lost their lives on the island. The report also aims to bring justice for those who died, and ensure that this period of history, and the Holocaust, is remembered fully and accurately.

The team’s calculation of the minimum number of prisoners or labourers sent to Alderney throughout the German occupation stands between 7,608 and 7,812 people. Death figures calculated after Alderney was liberated by the British originally suggested that 389 people died as a result of ill-treatment. Now, the Alderney Expert Review Panel has found that the number of deaths in Alderney is likely to range between 641 and 1,027. 

The review panel has concluded that there is no evidence that many thousands of victims died, and that claims Alderney constituted a ‘mini-Auschwitz’ are unsubstantiated.  

Dr Carr, Associate Professor in Archaeology at Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education, and Fellow of St Catharine’s College, who co-ordinated the panel, said: “I am proud of the way the team of experts came together to provide answers to the questions set by Lord Pickles. It shows what can be achieved when you bring together the right people with the right experience and expertise who are committed to working in memory of those who suffered in Alderney during the Occupation.”

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis KBE said: “The findings of the Alderney Review are a significant and welcome development. Having an authoritative account of this harrowing element of the island’s history is vital. It enables us to accurately remember the individuals who so tragically suffered and died on British soil. Marking the relevant sites will now be an appropriate step to take, to ensure that this information is widely available.”

The panel also sought to discover why German perpetrators were not tried by Britain for war crimes committed in Alderney. It concluded that a war crimes investigation carried out in Alderney immediately after the war was “wholly serious in intent”. But because most of the victims were Soviet citizens, the case was handed to the Russians. In exchange, Germans who murdered British servicemen in Stalag Luft III during the “Great Escape” were handed over to Britain.

The report says the Soviet Union did not follow up the Alderney case and were thus responsible for the failure to bring the perpetrators to justice, causing much anger among members of the British government.

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