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


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Forced labour was a central component of the Nazi camp archipelago and the notion of 'labour' itself has ideological importance for the Nazis as both liberating force, but also as redemptive and purifying force for perceived degenerates.

The use of forced labour was also intended as a way of weakening occupied countries and to deliberately exterminate perceived enemies of the Reich and almost anyone could become a victim of the Nazi state and there were many forced labourers whose descent into the hell of the labour camp system was caused solely by making a joke about Hitler or questioning his judgement in public. The wholesale destruction of both Jews and Gypsies was an important objective.

As the Reich conquered and occupied Europe, a formal system of pressed and forced labour was created to supply the labour needs of the Reich and to ensure continuing industrial production. The Germans created a complex hierarchy of workers based on Nazi racial laws and catagorization. At the top there was the minority of volunteers or, 'guest workers' who were largely free and properly paid. The rest worked under compulsion, with the 'Forced Workers', or slaves being at the bottom of the pile experiencing the very worst conditions and treatment. The Jews were the lowest of the low, closely followed by the Russians.

In practice, a great many of the slave labourers, were officially employed by Hitler's civil works super-contractor, the Todt Organization, which was a militarised construction organisation, employing civilians as well as the military. The OT then leased the slave labourers to civilian sub-contractor firms carrying out parts of their projects who could then profit from the almost free labour.

On Alderney these companies included: Deubau, Fuchs, Kniffler, Sager & Wernerstrabag, Westfahlishche Steinindustrie, Wolfer & Goebel, Colignon (France) Philippi (an electrical company).

The Germans also employed other convict labour groups on Alderney, including SS Baubrigade, 1, which comprised a formation of German political and other convicts from German concentration camps, formed into labour details and loaned to the Army, Air Force and OT and administered by one of the concentration camps. The second formation was a Komando of mostly German prisoners, from the German Army who were routinely sent as a short term punishment detail to Alderney, or as part of a prison sentence.

One third of all of the OT work was on the construction of the Atlantic Wall in the west which was latterly intended to hold off an anticipated Allied invasion of Europe. The work on Alderney was essentially an extension of the work on the Atlantic Wall to create 'Fortress Alderney' as well as being in all reality an extension of the extensive VI work going on around the Cherbourg Peninsular. Since Alderney was only 8 miles out from Cherbourg, Hitler saw that failing to hold Alderney could create a major head-ache, as the Allies could use it to exert wide control on shipping lanes and even as a bridgehead for an invasion force, but this fact alone could never justify the sheer amount of materiel devoted to Alderney, nor certainly the assertion that the defences of Alderney were somehow Hitler's vanity project. The assertion of the island being critical in secret plans to hold off the Allied invasion does however make eminent sense.

It is no accident that the camps in Alderney and in the Nord Pas de Calais were linked as staff often served and led at camps both on the main land and on Alderney. It should also be emphasised that the character and organisation of the camps here were essentially similar to those in much of Western Europe and are important in understanding many aspects of what transpired on Alderney. In particular a study of the other linked camps in the Nord Pas de Calais and the Emsland Group of camps (for special prisoners, both military and civilian, who were incarcerated for a variety of reasons both political and criminal, or were detainees awaiting trial) by the author point clearly to the similarities.

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