Hundreds more died in occupied Alderney, panel finds

Alderney. (38093765)

TWICE as many prisoners of war died in Alderney at the hands of the Nazis than previously thought, a new report has found.

It concluded that successive UK governments had covered up the true extent of suffering and deaths on British soil.

The Alderney Expert Review Panel report estimates the number of victims during the German occupation of the island from 1941-1945 to be between 641 and 1,027, far higher than the 389 previously officially believed to have perished.

But the report – which found that deaths were unlikely to have exceeded 1,134 people – found no evidence for theories that the Nazis constructed a “mini-Auschwitz” on Alderney, with Lord Pickles, the UK Special Envoy on Post Holocaust Issues, warning that exaggerating the number of dead “plays into the hands of Holocaust deniers and undermines the six million dead”, referring to the Jewish victims of the Nazis.

Lord Pickles said that while he had often encountered arguments about the number of people who died during the Second World War, “nothing compares to the virulence or personal nature of arguments over numbers in Alderney”.

“At a time when parts of Europe are seeking to rinse their history through the Holocaust, the British Isles must tell the unvarnished truth,” he added.

Alderney’s population was deported en masse in 1941 as the Nazis constructed a series of camps and prisons, and labourers as well as prisoners were brought to the island. Many of them were Soviet citizens captured during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

The panel found that between 7,608 and 7,812 people were sent to the island during its occupation.

After the war, the investigation of the deaths in the island was handed to the Soviet Union, which never pursued the case. As a result, the number of victims has been a source of speculation and controversy.

In a statement, Alderney’s president, William Tate, said that the panel had “resolved an important issue which has been the subject of much debate for many years”.

He added: “The review makes clear what terrible conditions the people who had been brought to the Island had to endure and how cheap their lives were to the occupying forces.

“As a community we will never forget the suffering that these poor souls endured and the tragic loss of life, resulting from the callous and inhumane behaviour of the occupying forces.”

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis said: “Having an authoritative account of this harrowing element of the island’s history is vital. It enables us to accurately remember the individuals who so tragically suffered and died on British soil.”

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