The full horrors of the only Nazi concentration camps to exist on British soil will finally be investigated in an official government inquiry.
The British government is to carry out a review into the numbers of prisoners murdered by the Nazis on Alderney, the tiny Channel Island and British crown dependency.
It has now been established that the SS ran two of the camps on Alderney during the second world war, and new evidence of the scale of Nazi barbarity on the island has emerged over recent years. The number of victims has been contested, with some claiming thousands were killed with many buried in mass graves on the island.
Dame Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP whose father fled Nazi persecution in Germany, welcomed the review: “It is time for the British government and Alderney authorities to finally face up to the horror of what happened on British soil. There can be no more lies and no more cover-up.
The expert review will be announced by the UK’s Holocaust envoy, Lord Pickles, and the government hopes the investigation will finally end the controversy over the scale of the Holocaust on Alderney.
The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied by the German army after Winston Churchill’s war cabinet decided in the summer of 1940 they could not be defended. The British population of Alderney, 10 miles from the French coast, was evacuated, which allowed Nazi high command to turn the island into a giant prison for slave labour.
Though the majority of prisoners were Russians and Ukrainians, brought from the occupied parts of the Soviet Union to build the giant defences of Hitler’s so-called Atlantic Wall, it is known that many Jews, north Africans and Spanish republicans were also taken to Alderney.
According to testimony from the time, many prisoners were killed through a policy of systematic murder known as “Vernichtung durch Arbeit” – extermination through labour. Others were tortured, shot, given fatal injections and those sick, or unable to work, were sent to extermination camps in Occupied Europe.
It has been established that at least one transit of hundreds of French Jews was housed in one camp on the island having been transported there from the Drancy transit camp in Paris, where Jews were rounded up and sent on to Auschwitz during the German occupation of France.
Only eight Jews are officially recorded as dying on the island, but the new inquiry will examine claims from researchers that as many as 1,000 could be buried in mass graves. Some campaigners believe thousands could have perished on the island.