This chapter summarises the main findings of the book, highlighting the contribution of forensic archaeology to the investigation of the occupation of Alderney and Nazi persecution more generally. It provides a personal reflection by the authors regarding the challenges faced during their research and the methodological approaches taken. The chapter also outlines considerations for the future and highlights the need for further research in order to commemorate the victims.
This chapter considers the somewhat controversial topic of death and burial on Alderney and focuses on one of the main questions posed in our study: how many people died on the island, who are they and where are they buried? Although a system for registering deaths appeared to be in place, this chapter considers how this ‘system’ operated in practice. With the aid of death certificates, burial registries and other documentation, it goes on to reveal the stories of those who died on Alderney, while simultaneously demonstrating demographic trends that can further define the nature of mass violence. This chapter first considers the official registration procedures that were meant to be carried out after a death occurred and then compares these to the actual ways in which fatalities were recorded. In doing so, new evidence is presented which highlights the chaotic and deceptive nature of the death certification practices and sheds further light on the nature of interpersonal violence against the forced, slave and less-than-slave labourers. Resulting from this analysis and for the first time, the chapter also provides comprehensive information about victims whose details are recorded in surviving documentation.
Two of the four main camps, Borkum and Helgoland, are examined in this chapter. The influx of labourers sent to Alderney during the occupation led to the need for accommodation to house them. When the British military arrived on Alderney in May 1945, they documented the presence of four main camps that the Germans had built for this purpose. Borkum, Helgoland, Sylt and Norderney – all named after German Frisian Islands – were constructed at the four corners of the island. These camps were erected near to major construction projects that commenced in mid–late 1942 and were governed by the OT (although Sylt and Norderney were later taken over by the SS). Borkum existed in the south-east corner of the island near Longy Bay and what would become several strategic strongpoints, while Helgoland was set back from a major coastal defence point in the north-west of the island near two major forts at which the labourers worked.
This chapter examines the historical and archaeological evidence relating to both the OT and SS periods of Norderney’s existence, in order to demonstrate how the living conditions of the inmates and the camp administration were impacted over time. As discussed, of all the camps on Alderney, Norderney provides the best example of how the natural environment was used to ensure that control was maintained over the inmates; hence, a detailed analysis of the topography of this camp is provided as a gateway through which the experiences of the labourers can be further analysed.
COVID-19 has reinstated the sovereign enclosures of corpse management that mothers of the disappeared had so successfully challenged in the past decade. To explore how moral duties toward the dead are being renegotiated due to COVID-19, this article puts forward the notion of biorecuperation, understood as an individualised form of forensic care for the dead made possible by the recovery of biological material. Public health imperatives that forbid direct contact with corpses due to the pandemic, interrupt the logics of biorecuperation. Our analysis is based on ten years of experience working with families of the disappeared in Mexico, ethnographic research within Mexico’s forensic science system and online interviews conducted with medics and forensic scientists working at the forefront of Mexico City’s pandemic. In the face of increasing risks of viral contagion and death, this article analyses old and new techniques designed to bypass the prohibitions imposed by the state and its monopoly over corpse management and identification.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented global crisis. To limit the spread of the virus and the associated excess mortality, states and governing bodies have produced a series of regulations and recommendations from a health perspective. The funerary aspects of these directives have reconfigured not only the ways in which the process of dying can be accompanied, but also the management of dead bodies, impacting on the dying, their relatives and professionals in the sector. Since March 2020, the entire process of separation and farewell has been affected, giving rise to public debates about funeral restrictions and the implications for mourning. We carried out a study in France and Switzerland to measure the effects of this crisis, and in particular to explore whether it has involved a shift from a funerary approach to a strictly mortuary one. Have the practices that would normally be observed in non-pandemic times been irrevocably altered? Does this extend to all deaths? Has there been a switch to an exclusively technical handling? Are burial practices still respected? The results of the present study pertain to the ‘first wave’ of spring 2020 and focus on the practices of professionals working in the funeral sector.
This article analyses the management of bodies in Brazil within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its objective is to examine how the confluence of underreporting, inequality and alterations in the forms of classifying and managing bodies has produced a political practice that aims at the mass infection of the living and the quick disposal of the dead. We first present the factors involved in the process of underreporting of the disease and its effects on state registration and regulation of bodies. Our analysis then turns to the cemetery to problematise the dynamics through which inequality and racism are re-actualised and become central aspects of the management of the pandemic in Brazil. We will focus not only on the policies of managing bodies adopted during the pandemic but also on those associated with other historical periods, examining continuities and ruptures, as well as their relationship to long-term processes.