Alderney Holocaust and Slave Labour Trail
(c) Marcus Roberts 2014.


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The Russian Liberation Army, which conducted guard and anti-partisan duties on the Eastern Front were not found to be reliable (often defecting to the partisans side with their equipment) so they were sent to Cherbourg where most were happy to surrender to the Allies at the first opportunity. Some 70 Russians in German uniform were on Alderney. They were unarmed and used as ammunition carriers and fatigue troops. There were also some Russians specially trained in Paris used as camp guards.

The guards used special whips made of a rubber rod covered with a steel spiral with a plastic coating, again covered with a leather sock.

The Russians were largely withdrawn from Alderney by February 1944, but 900 multi-national political prisoners were left and some 650 Jews.

In March 1944 Helgoland camp was disbanded and prisoners were transferred to Norderney. On the 6 - 7 May 1944, a major transportation of c. 800 Jews from Norderney, left Alderney, towards Neuengamme concentration camp. Some escaped en route, the remaining 500 are eventually diverted to Lager Tibor, at Dannes, and to Lager Braunek in Boulogne, due to bombing.

In June 1944, other Jews, Moroccans and Frenchmen were deported after D Day, some being sent to Lager Tibor, at Dannes, in the Pas de Calais.

On 26/27 June, 1944, immediately after liberation of Cherbourg, the last deportees left Alderney and were sent to Guernsey Jersey and thence to St Malo. Many deportees were killed in bombing raids or drowned.

On 4 September 1944 a fresh attempt was made to transport the Jews from the original transport of 6-7 May, to Neuengamme, but their train was stopped and liberated at Diksmuide in Belgium by the Resistance and this was effectively the end of the war-time history of the camps on Alderney.

Little justice was to be experienced by the former inmates of the camps. The former Russian inmates who survived and returned to their homeland were not given a hero's welcome, but were treated with suspicion and were regarded as unpatriotic and felt unable to discuss their wartime experiences except with fellow former prisoners. Many of the 10% of the Russian cohort who had collaborated with the Germans were tried and sent to the Gulags in Siberia.

The only camp personnel ever to be tried were the camp leaders of the Jewish section of Lager Norderney, Adler and Evers, who were both tried and convicted, in France, in September 1949, on a charge of subjecting Jews to 'superhuman work' and 'systematic ill-treatment' and sentenced to ten and seven years in prison. They were able to take advantage of a poorly organised prosecution and even mock the former prisoners during the trial, with the result they avoided the death penalty which was the fate of most who appeared before the tribunal. However, List, while slated to be tried for war crimes, was never tried, and died at comfort in his home in Germany in the 1980s.

Notes on Research and Sources

Research on slave labour camps and slave labour sites is beset with difficulties because while a variety of primary and secondary sources are available, gaining a consistent and comprehensive view and understanding of the history and sites is nearly impossible. The fog of war is particularly pervasive as sources can be fragmentary, the understanding and view point of witnesses is often limited and Nazi secrecy and the high-mortality rate of potential Jewish witnesses all cause difficulty.

It is also of considerable importance to understand the exact natures of the camps and their place in the Nazi regime, particularly how they relate to Holocaust history. Local people have had considerable concerns about claims that the camps on the islands were either concentration camps, or extermination camps, or if there were ever 'mass-graves' on the island. Hopefully this research, along with the work of other researchers, makes this complex picture clearer.

This research has been based as far as possible on primary sources and on field-work on Alderney, as well as comparative work with linked sites in Nord Pas de Calais and the Emsland series of camps as well as GIS work. The comparative work has significantly helped an understanding of the camps and conditions on Alderney. The disparate archives and the collection of the Alderney Museum, of maps, photographs, testimonies and other materials, are an invaluable research resource. These have also been supplemented by use of the important contemporary testimonies of victims and perpetrators, gathered by the interrogators at the London Cage held at Kew, as well as other contemporary intelligence assessments by the Intelligence services. Resources provided by USHMM and the ITS database have also been very helpful. The key publications and reports at the end of the War, particularly by Pantcheff and key eye-witness testimonies such as by Kondakov and others, remain important, though Pantcheff's reports may well have deliberate official bias, especially as regards mortality. Some would describe his report as official 'white-wash' and 'propaganda' and it should not be relied on, particularly as Pantcheff made it clear to those he favoured on the island, that he had not told the whole story (and would give away the odd piece of additional information) and even today, his personal papers in the archive are embargoed and locked away. It is usual for historians to attempt to uncover the truth and not to conceal it. More recent secondary sources assimilate as much of the available material as possible and correct some of the earlier inaccuracies. Davenport's recent survey of the German defences of the island are also an important consideration of the remaining physical evidence, though are wedded to the Pantcheff account of the history. However, significant questions remain to be answered and a reading of the declassified sources at Kew show how the British were determined to control what was known about the war-time activities on the island and virtually nothing is public as to what they found on arriving at the island.

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