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Alderney JTrail : a succinct objective perspective of World War II sites

Date: 01/10/2015

Alderney JTrail : a succinct objective perspective of World War II sites

Jersey Times Newspaper

As we approach the 70th Remembrance Sunday since the end of World War II, my attention was directed to the excellent JTrails web site (, which includes a very comprehensive and objective assessment of sites in Alderney.

By way of background
JTrails believes that Anglo-Jewish history and heritage is an important national, cultural resource that deserves general recognition. JTrails aims to promote Jewish history and heritage through its own programmes and by working with existing Jewish and non-Jewish, community, historical and heritage organisations, communities and individuals. JTrails work in Europe as well, recognising the international aspect of Jewish heritage and working on 'sites of memory'." The driving force behind JTrails is Marcus Roberts. He has a number of publications in the field, including an article in the Journal of Medieval Archaeology, a book on the history of the Home for Aged Jews at Nightingale House and several articles on Jewish heritage in the Jewish Chronicle and other national and local publications. He is also a Holocaust researcher with publications relating to Jewish slave labour in France and the Channel Islands. In 2013 JTrails became an independent registered heritage charity, which has expanded its work to include Jewish heritage sites in Europe as well as Holocaust research and the creation of Holocaust trails 'in sight of England."

Having set the context of Alderney during World War II, the website guide documents in writing and visually 21 sites on Alderney. The sites range from the anti-tank wall at Longis Common to Strong Point 'Biberkopf'- Bibette Head, to Commandant List's Chalet - Longis Common. The 21 sites and their locations are denoted on the map of Alderney. There is a history of what occurred at each site during World War II, with reference sources from eye witness accounts, documented records and archival information from different jurisdictions, whose records are accessible.

Much archive material concerning event during and at the termination of the World War II remains inaccessible in the UK Public Records Offices until 2045 but other jurisdictions are now opening their archives for research and enquiry including the USA, Austria and Russia. No doubt, paternalistic intentions were behind the motive of the UK Labour Government in closing the archives of the records of the many horrific disclosures of events in closing months of 1945 and its immediate aftermath, inspired by the desire to return the country to "normality after World War II." From a perspective of 70 years, the events are now historic events which require objective and forensic analysis from a perspective of 70 years. Once one jurisdiction opens its archives, the archive records start to paint a picture such that it becomes futile for other jurisdictions to maintain inaccessible archives for a longer period of time.
JTrails should be congratulated in producing a succinct guide to the Wartime site in Alderney, which is succinct and yet cohesive and comprehensive without in any way "dumbing down" the serious subject matter.

Robert McDowall

Any views expressed in this article represent my own personal perspective of the material.

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