Lord Pickles, the UK’s Post Holocaust Issues Envoy, recently announced a review of the evidence into the numbers of prisoners who died on the Channel island which has been subject of considerable speculation.
The camps in Alderney were significant in the history of the Holocaust because they were sited on British soil. Lord Pickles has now appointed a team of eleven independent and internationally recognised experts to review existing research and historic records to identify the “most accurate” number of people who died under the occupation.
The panel includes Staffordshire University’s Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls, Associate Professor Kevin Colls, and Dr Daria Cherkaska who have examined the remnants of concentration and labour camps on the island and scoured archives around the world for information about the people sent there.
Last year they published a book 'Adolf Island': The Nazi Occupation of Alderney, based on their extensive archival research and in-field investigations which first began in 2009. Their work also featured in a documentary “Adolf Island” which first aired on Smithsonian channel in 2019.
Their findings are also part of a dedicated website launched this week which displays existing findings and which will add new information which emerges during the enquiry.
Caroline, Professor of Conflict Archaeology and Director of the Centre of Archaeology welcomed the review. She said: “For many years, we’ve been saying that the story of what happened to the forced and slave labourers who were sent to Alderney needs to be told and we are delighted to be part of this important enquiry.
“The website is a significant resource for anyone interested in the history of the Nazi Occupation of Alderney and the places that were connected to the forced and slave labour programme.
“Most importantly, we hope that the website will help to increase awareness of the stories of some of the people who lived, worked, and died there between 1941 and 1945.”
The website, which invites submissions from anyone with information or knowledge about the sites on Alderney, is supported by the University of Cambridge, Staffordshire University, and the UK government.
Lord Pickles Head of UK Delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, said: “The website is part of our commitment to transparency. It gives a good overview of the latest published evidence and provides a further opportunity for people who have evidence to contact us.
“I thank Professor Caroline Sturdy-Colls and Kevin Colls from Staffordshire University for sharing their latest research on the Nazi occupation of Alderney and getting the website off to such a strong start.”
Announcing the enquiry, Lord Pickles said it was important that the enquiry got to the truth about the numbers of people, including Jews, Spanish, Ukranian and Russian prisoners of war, who died on the island.
He said: “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.
“The review will give historians, journalists, residents, and anyone with a theory an opportunity to explore their thoughts with eleven of the world’s leading experts, in an atmosphere that combines openness with academic rigour. All are welcome.”