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The Longer Read

It is time to expose the true horrors of the Nazi concentration camp on British soil

As many as 5,000 Jews could have been murdered on the Channel Island of Alderney – a government inquiry to expose the truth is long overdue, writes Guy Walters

Tuesday 25 July 2023 18:15 BST
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Commandant Oberst Schwalm, Germany comander on Alderney, surrenders to Brigadier Alfred Ernest Snow
Commandant Oberst Schwalm, Germany comander on Alderney, surrenders to Brigadier Alfred Ernest Snow (Northcliffe Collection/ANL/Shutt)

Nearly everything about the tiny Channel Island of Alderney feels terribly British. Its 2,000 or so inhabitants drive on the left, drink British beer, speak English, live in houses that look as if they were made in Devon, and purchases are made with pounds and pence. There are small differences – such as a 35mph speed limit, and a blue telephone box – but by and large, despite being technically a British crown dependency and therefore not a part of the United Kingdom, Alderney is as British as fish and chips.

However, there is a part of Alderney that is emphatically not British, and that is its wartime history. For unlike Britain, Alderney, along with the rest of the Channel Islands, was invaded by the Nazis. But while the populations of Guernsey and Jersey were to endure five long years of occupation, all but a very small handful of Alderney’s inhabitants were evacuated before the Germans landed. As a result, the invaders had a free hand to do what they liked, and as was their wont when left to their own devices, the Nazis established at least four slave labour camps on the island – one of which, Lager Sylt, was a concentration camp run by the SS.

Overseen by an SS officer called Maximilian List, prisoners at Sylt were subjected to the most appalling tortures and punishments, and many were worked to death. While conditions were similarly despicable at the other camps, it is chilling – and often overlooked – that Alderney was the home of the only SS concentration camp on what is de facto British soil.

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