Alderney Holocaust and Slave Labour Trail
(c) Marcus Roberts 2014.

History

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The story of slave labour and concentration camps on Alderney and in the Channel Islands, begins in 1940 when the Islanders on Alderney evacuated the island, leaving a handful of islanders behind, who had decided to stay-on. In June 1940 British demilitarise Alderney and on 2 July 1940 Germans occupy Alderney with a small occupying force. From early on in their occupation they decided to turn Alderney into a strong point, and October and December 1941 Hitler called for Alderney to be made into an impregnable fortress. Despite subsequent claims to the contrary, the fortification of the island made good strategic sense as it controlled the sea channel around Cherbourg, provided anti-aircraft cover and could have otherwise become a staging point for an Allied invasion of the main land and became part of the Atlantic Wall fortification.

The importance of the island intensified in November, when in Fuhrer Directive 51, (3 November, 1943) Adolf Hitler stated, '...All signs point to an offensive against the Western Front of Europe no later than spring and perhaps earlier. For that reason, I can no longer justify the further weakening of the West in favour of other theatres of war. I have therefore decided to strengthen the defences in the West particularly at place from which we shall launch our long-range war [with V. Rockets] against England...'

In practical consequence, in December 1941 Hitler called for the construction of the Atlantic Wall and Alderney was incorporated in the plan.
The Alderney slave labour camps were constructed from January 1942 onwards and 'volunteer' and slave workers were culled from all across Europe, North Africa as well as a few prisoners from Indo-China (Thailand), as part of desperate attempts to get enough workers for the Atlantic Wall and the construction of the Block Houses in the Nord Pas de Calais. A cohort of 10,000 men was considered to be the absolute minimum for any single major construction project, such as a block house.

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