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


Bookmark this page |  E-mail this page to a friend

Pages < 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   > 

Historical accounts of the war-time history of the island note at least six or more camps were established on Alderney, four major and two minor. The main camps were Helgoland, Borkum, Norderney, Sylt and with the minor camps of New Town and Citadella.

However, new research by JTrails, has shown that there were several other permanent and transient camps and kommandos elsewhere on the island and associated with specific German construction projects. Some of these are associated with an early phase of intense construction activity on the island, but were closed when their projects finished and are not well documented, or even named. There were also camps and commandos associated with farming activities on the island, which had a permanent character, and one may note that the OT Farm (Mignot Farm) should be included as it had 60 plus prisoners billeted there from Sylt. The full list of the camps is given in the 'Places of Interest' and the evidence for them.

A review of the evidence shows that there may have been around 13 camps on Alderney, though a small number of these were probable for OT personnel, rather than slave workers. This again suggests that the post-war estimates of prisoner numbers are well short of the actual numbers present on the island. Certainly, historical accounts until now have failed to note the large numbers of workers needed to excavate and construct the tunnel complexes on the island, associated with VI work, nor the high death rates of between 5-15 per cent per month, that are an established fact and feature of these projects from the Germans own internal statistics.

In regard to the smaller camps, we find that in January 1943, the OT Haupttruppfuhrer Johann Hoffmann gave a break-down of the numbers of forced labourers across the camps on Alderney. This number included 200 Russians dispersed outside the main camps, on sites across the island, though this number could have gone up or down according to requirements. There were also smaller groups of Political prisoners held in huts and houses at different locations on the island, outside of the main camps. There were also a number of Britons working on these sites as well.

The first camp was probably the Newtown Camp, which was for a number of French Jews stated to be working around the harbour area. This was in fact comprised of wired-off billets in abandoned houses in New Town. There were also a set of 'Beaver-board' huts on site as well, and it is likely that they were for (Jewish) prisoners as they were wired off. A similar, short-lived camp, Citadella camp, in the centre of St Anne's was also established for Moroccan POW's. There was also a camp at Le Val for German technical specialists (who worked on VI projects) and who were part of the German military establishment, but they were served there by a group of volunteers and prisoners and the camp was associated with the construction of the lengthy secret tunnel system at St Anne's.

The main camps were Helgoland, Borkum, Norderney, Sylt. All of the camps were originally ran by the OT. The Helgoland Camp was an OT camp with a camp capacity of 1,500 forced labours. It was also a camp which MI19 informs us was a largely Jewish camp at one stage in its history. Borkum was another OT Labour Camp, with mostly skilled workers including Germans and volunteers from occupied countries.

Most of the camps on Alderney and the larger camps in the Pas de Calais were for around 1,500 prisoners, but a count of the number of huts in these camps and the numbers of prisoners stated to be in the huts suggests that they could accommodate far more, if required, even if only half of the observed huts held prisoners.

Norderney Camp was an OT forced labour camp, with a capacity of 1,500, with inmates including, Jews, Russian, French, Czech, Dutch and Spanish and some German volunteers. There was a separate Jewish section in the camp and the MI 19 report states that it may have had a majority of Jewish prisoners. All of the men in the camp were threatened with death in case of Allied invasion and preparations were made in the Arch Bay Tunnel for this eventuality and even included two rehearsals with the prisoners, with the apparent intention being to rapidly herd them into the tunnel and to kill them with a machine gun or to asphyxiate them.

Sylt was the most notorious camp. It was initially an OT camp, which was subsequently placed under control of the SS Baubrigade and became a sub-camp of Neuengamme, from 1 March 1943, though the Baubrigade originally came out of Sachsenhausen Camp. It is stated by Steckoll to have been the most secret of all SS concentration camps in Europe, with the camp Kommandant, List, being personally appointed by Himmler. Its inmates included, Jews, Russians, Poles, Dutch, French, and political prisoners, etc. However, MI19 reports state that the camp may again have had a majority of Jewish prisoners and had contingents of slaves from both Baubrigade I and II, contrary to histories that state that it only contained the Baubrigade I.

Part of its secrecy was due to the fact that some of the highest ranking political prisoners in the Reich may have been there, probably originating from the group of special prisoners at Sachsenhausen Camp, as the Bau Brigade on Alderney was initially formed at Sachsenhausen, but transferred to Neuengamme about the time that the BauBrigade was sent to Alderney. Kondakov and others relate that there were special prisoners, treated with respect even by the guards, who may have been top-rank military officers whom it was deemed too politically sensitive to have been executed.

Camp Sylt was the centre of the worst abuses and deaths of prisoners. The gates of the camps were infamous as an execution site - starving Russian POWs were crucified on the gates for alleged theft of food. It is also speculated that prisoners were killed by being pushed of the nearby cliffs and aerial photographs of the camp show a well worn path to the cliff edge.

Even today the history of the camp is a matter of significant contest, because it is an opinion that 'there were no concentration camps on Alderney'. However, the camp is consistently described as a concentration camp by witnesses, both former prisoners and German military and it was formerly designated in war-time as a sub-camp of Neuengamme as it was titled, 'KL Neuengamme - Kdo 1SS Baubrigade, Alderney'. Furthermore, surviving documentation shows beyond doubt that the camp was administered by the WHVA, which ran all of the SS concentration camps, under Himmler and Pohl and that Himmler directly appointed List and despatched secret orders to him, some of which were orders to kill prisoners in event of an Allied invasion.

Also, one may note the importance of the surviving concentration camp uniforms that are preserved from Sylt, but oddly in the Guernsey museum. Apart from the classic pyjama style, they bear the distinctive KL camp triangular insignia to denote different ranks of prisoner. The hat and jacket are in fact separate artefacts; the hat demonstrates the presence of Jews in Sylt, as it has the yellow triangle which is for a Jew, though it seems to be missing an inverted triangle over the top of it to show which category of Jew was being denoted, though it looks as if it was never worn and could have been waiting for the addition of the superimposed triangle. The jacket has the up-right red triangle denoting one of the following - an enemy POW, a "Special Detainee", a spy or traitor, or a military deserter or criminal , with the bar suggesting he was a repeat offender

An examination of the documentation and contextual evidence also shows that it was a grade III concentration camp, or a 'bone mill', as defined in the Nuremberg war-crimes trial, where all prisoners were ear-marked for death. Its treatment of prisoners also closely parallel SS camps with secret activities and which killed most of its prisoners, at the work-site, or in the camp and also had orders to kill their prisoners in case of Allied invasion.

The Russians were numerically one of the most numerous prisoner group the first Russians arrived in Alderney in June/July 1942, some being sent to Norderney, others to Helgoland. Some of these prisoners were erstwhile volunteers dubbed, 'voluntary workers from the East' (Freiwillige Ostarbeiter) and included both the old and young, who one German witness stated had been ostensibly hired as agricultural labour in Germany, but found that they were in fact prisoners and starved and beaten while at hard labour. Some of the volunteers might in fact have been brutally press-ganged as part of the Nazi campaign of forced recruitment of 1942-3 in Russia and Ukraine rather than hired in Germany. This campaign saw villages burnt for resisting 'volunteering' and children seized and taken away to unknown destinations. Officially the youngest volunteers were 16, but some may well have been as young as 14 years old, as Germans often took those who merely appeared to be of the right age and we know that 14 year old Russian boys were present at Dannes across the Channel.

Most came from specific regions in Nazi occupied Russia and Ukraine, which had been brutalised by the Germans and subject to terrible atrocities. There were Russian workers from Pskov, Orlov and Smolensk in particular - some 16,000 were brought to Alderney between April and August 1942. Some also came from Symy. Also, Russian males aged between 16 and 30 were seized and some 6,000 sent to work for OT from Orel and Tula regions and part of Ukraine sent as labourers to Channel Island. Pantcheff also noted that in July 1942 a group of about 1,000 Russian, Pole and Ukrainian forced workers were transported to Alderney followed by a further two groups totalling 1,800 in August 1942.

The Russian volunteer workers were a distinct group to the Russian POWs were also introduced to the island with the letter 'SU' on their back by which to identify them. This stood for 'sowjetischer Untermensch' - 'Soviet Sub-Human'.

Post a Comment
Submit to this trail