Channel Islands death camp was no ‘mini-Auschwitz’, review finds

Around 1,000 people, including deported French Jews, were killed on the British crown dependency


The Alderney camp featured 'brutality, sadism and murder', Lord Pickles said (Photo: Getty Images)

Around 1,000 people were killed on island of Alderney, a British crown dependency, while it was occupied by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, a new report has revealed.

Contrary to some previous claims, however, it was not a “mini-Auschwitz” at which many thousands of victims died.

The Chief Rabbi hailed the findings and said he was glad the report uncovered a "harrowing element of the island's history.”

The review finds that between 641 and 1,027 people were killed in Alderney between 1941 and 1945, with the total number of deaths not likely to exceed 1,134.

Between 7,608 and 7,812 people were sent as prisoners to the island in total. 

Alderney, the most northern of the Channel Islands, was seized by Germany in 1940 after most of its 1,500 residents had been evacuated to Britain.

Slave labour camps were constructed that – like those on mainland Europe – featured starvation, long working hours, torture, and executions.

Jews deported from France, German political prisoners, and north Africans were imprisoned at the site.

On its liberation in 1945, however, investigators declared that just 389 people were killed there.

Last year, Lord Pickles, the UK government’s special envoy on post Holocaust issues, launched a review to discover a more accurate figure.

Historians and journalists submitted evidence to the inquiry. Panel chair Dr Paul Sanders said of the experts: "They were able to develop synergies, on a scale and level that is unlikely to be repeated again. I am proud to have been part of this unique endeavour."

Lord Pickles said last year: “Numbers matter because the truth matters. The dead deserve the dignity of the truth; the residents of Alderney deserve accurate numbers to free them from the distortion of conspiracy theorists.

"Exaggerating the numbers of the dead, or even minimising them, is in itself a form of Holocaust distortion and a critical threat to Holocaust memory and to fostering a world without genocide.”

Having been unoccupied during the Second World War, Lord Pickles writes in the report, the “unscrupulous and the careless” were able to use Alderney as, “a plain canvas on which any fantasy could be painted.”

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis 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."

Dr Gilly Carr, who served on the review 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.”

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