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Atrocities At Alderney

The Nazi German forces had occupied some parts of Channel Islands, a group of British dependency islands in the English Channel off the coast of France, in 1940. Having done so, they set up their bases mainly in Alderney on the Channel Islands. As usual, the Germans started torturing people soon after the British Army made an attempt to regain control of the area! The Global Community hardly had an idea about the harsh life of the captives, there…

The journal, named ‘Antiquity‘, recently published a research report, highlighting the activities of the German soldiers on the Channel Islands. The researchers are of the opinion that revelation of the facts would increase the historical importance of this place. As per the report, the Germans had taken control of Alderney from Britain during the Second World War.

German Forces

Although the British Government had managed to rescue many civilians and sent them to safer places before the German occupation, nearly 1500 people were still there in Alderney. By the end of 1942, the Germans set up four camps, two work camps and two concentration camps, there. In those two concentration camps, they forced their prisoners to stay in small unhygienic rooms.

Caroline Sturdy Colls – the Professor of Conflict Archaeology and Genocide Investigation at Staffordshire University, specialising in Holocaust Studies, Identification of Human Remains, Forensic Archaeology and Crime Scene Investigation – has said that people were well aware of the fact that the Germans had occupied Alderney. However, no one could know the level of torture until this research, she stressed.

Torture

According to the researchers, the prisoners were kept in small rooms, having a single door in each one. There was no window in those rooms that had just a single attached bathroom. As nearly 700 inmates had to share a single room, each person would have had just 16sqft of space at best. Due to the unhealthy and unhygienic environment, any disease would spread rapidly in the camp. Moreover, the presence of rats and vermins made the situation further intolerable for the inmates. Once, the spread of typhus had claimed at least 200 lives in Alderney.

The researchers also found an underground tunnel, leading from the Commandant’s House to the camp. However, the tunnel was difficult to see due to bad lighting conditions. They believe that the Nazis used to take the female prisoners to brothels through this tunnel! The Nazis went to great lengths to outfit the two concentration camps with imposing fences and guard towers. Colls has said that the fences surely had a profound psychological effect on the inmates. “In a way, it didn’t need any of those things because it was on a corner of a small island surrounded by minefields. There was nowhere for any of these prisoners to go,” she insisted.

Tunnel

Francisco Font, a Spanish Republican and forced labourer at one of the other camps on Alderney, recalled that while doing work near Sylt camp, he saw a man strung up on the main gate. “On his chest he had a sign on which was written: ‘for stealing bread’.” “His body was left hanging like this for four days,” he also said in a recording, kept at an archive in Jersey and Guernsey, the largest of the Channel islands.

Lawn

According to Font, most of the prisoners in the camps were from Ukraine, Poland, Russia and other Soviet territories, but there was also a significant contingent of French Jews. Although the site is an overgrown patch of land hard against the rugged cliffs of Alderney nowadays, it was a feared and heavily guarded German prison 75 years ago.

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