The Nazi occupation of the small Channel Island of Alderney irreversibly altered the landscape and lives of both the contemporary population and the subsequent generations. The evacuation of the island’s 1,500 inhabitants in June 1940 paved the way for a period of occupation by the Germans that would last until May 1945. In 1941, Hitler issued an order to fortify the Channel Islands and make them an ‘impregnable fortress’; thus creating ‘Adolf Island’. This book seeks to collate and combine historical and archaeological data relating the occupation landscape in order to produce the definitive guide to the events that took place during this period. It addresses yet unanswered questions relating to the purpose of the occupation, the lives of the labourers, known and missing, and the post-war reaction to this legacy.
This chapter provides an evaluation of unnamed and smaller camps as well as prisons. By focusing on the architecture and spatiality of internment throughout, it considers both the uniqueness of Alderney’s camp system and its place within the wider Nazi camp system in Europe. Following historical research by a comprehensive programme of archaeological investigations across Alderney, comparisons were made between maps, aerial images, the MI19 documentation and physical remains observed during walkover surveys within a Geographic Information System (GIS), contributing towards our understanding of the extent and nature of the camps and internment sites. This process was particularly important as few witness testimonies exist that describe the sites in more detail. This chapter presents the findings of these investigations and concludes with a discussion of the unique and normative aspects of the Alderney camp system.
This chapter focuses on these final phases of Alderney’s occupation history in order to assess the effect that these events had on people and the landscape. The experiences of the forced, slave and less-than-slave labourers after June 1944 are considered, drawing on testimonies, post-war records relating to displaced persons and repatriation, and landscape analysis. In the years since liberation, there has been much speculation about what the world knew about the crimes perpetrated on Alderney. Hence, the nature of investigations carried out during the occupation and in its aftermath is discussed in order to assess how these inquiries influenced the presentation and perceptions of the labourers in the years since. The chapter includes a review of the post-liberation investigations, evaluating what the British government knew about the events on Alderney during the occupation and how they utilised this information over time. It also assesses how and why certain aspects of the occupation have been forgotten or remembered and, crucially, it documents what happened to the forced, slave and less-than-slave labourers who survived after liberation, many of whom went on to suffer further internment and persecution.
Drawing upon extensive archival research, this chapter considers the identities and demographic of the forced, slave and less-than-slave labourers sent to Alderney during the Nazi occupation. Refocusing the attention on individual and collective experiences, it demonstrates the various ways in which the nature of the work being undertaken, and the attitudes towards individuals and groups, affected the daily lives of the labourers, and how their treatment was influenced by the wider Nazi forced and slave labour programme implemented across Europe. The latter is especially important as whether the construction works on Alderney were undertaken for military/economic gain or as part of a wider strategy of persecution levied at minority groups remains one of the most contentious issues surrounding Alderney’s occupation.
This chapter evaluates the fortifications that the labourers, not from the perspective of their military significance, but rather in terms of their status as products of forced and slave labour, and their impact upon the sensory experiences. The chapter draws upon the results of walkover surveys, photogrammetry and mapping exercises in order to evaluate the various interactions between the labourers and the landscapes in which they worked. also discussed are other material traces interacted with, or generated by, the labourers and members of the German garrison – most notably marks (including graffiti) and objects – while also considering the role that these played in resistance and oppression. A later section focuses on the daily lives of the labourers within the camps and other internment sites in which they were housed. The chapter concludes with a discussion about the purpose of the labour programme on Alderney, reflecting on both its economic value and role in the persecution of so-called enemies of the Third Reich.
This chapter provides new evidence regarding the burial procedures employed on Alderney, offering new perspectives on known interment sites and identified possible unmarked, clandestine graves, by comparing the officially sanctioned burial procedures with the reality of body disposal practices on Alderney. It discusses the disorganised disposal of bodies, both within the official cemeteries and at other sites beyond their boundaries.
When Alderney’s pre-war population returned in December 1945, evidence of occupation still dominated the landscape and clean-up operations continued for years afterwards. In the decades since, the islanders, local government and British government have grappled with this legacy and the issue of forced and slave labour. This chapter focuses on the legacies of the occupation and the impact that this has had on how the sites and stories connected to forced and slave labour have been approached since WW2 at local, national and international level. Beginning with a review of the impact that the ravaged landscape had on Alderney’s returning islanders and vice versa, the chapter charts the ways in which cultural memory and approaches to archaeology and heritage have evolved up to the present day.