Alderney camps

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Only old bunkers and casemates such as this one remain

The Alderney camps were prison camps built and operated by Nazi Germany during its World War II occupation of the Channel Islands.[1] The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles to be occupied.

Four camps[edit]

The Nazis built four camps on Alderney. The Nazi Organisation Todt (OT) operated each subcamp and used forced labour to build fortifications in Alderney including bunkers, gun emplacements, air-raid shelters, tunnels and concrete fortifications. The camps commenced operating in January 1942. They were named after the Frisian Islands.

The four camps on the Island had a total inmate population that fluctuated but is estimated at about 6,000. Exact details are impossible to determine as many records were destroyed.

Two work camps[edit]

The two work camps were:

The Borkum and Helgoland camps were "volunteer" (Hilfswillige) labour camps[2] and the labourers in those camps were treated harshly but better than the inmates at the Sylt and Norderney camps.

Borkum camp was used for German technicians and "volunteers" from different countries of Europe. Helgoland camp was used for Russian Organisation Todt workers.

Two concentration camps[edit]

The other two camps became concentration camps when they were handed over to be run by the SS from 1 March 1943, they became subcamps of the Neuengamme camp outside Hamburg:

The prisoners in Lager Sylt and Lager Norderney were slave labourers forced to build the many military fortifications and installations throughout Alderney. Sylt camp held Jewish enforced labourers.[3]

Norderney camp housed European (mainly Eastern but including Spanish) and Russian enforced labourers. The Lager Sylt commandant, Karl Tietz had a black French colonial as an under officer. A German naval officer, shocked to see a black man beating up white men from the camp, threatened to shoot the colonial officer if he saw him doing it again. Tietz was brought before a court-martial in April 1943 and sentenced to 18 months penal servitude for the crime of selling on the black market after he sold cigarettes, watches, and valuables he had bought from Dutch OT workers.[4]:147

In March 1943, Lager Norderney, containing Russian and Polish POWs, and Lager Sylt, holding Jews, were placed under the control of the SS , with SS Hauptsturmführer Max List commanding.[citation needed]


Alderney concentration camps memorial plaque

More than 700 camp inmates lost their lives before the camps were closed and the remaining inmates transferred to France in 1944.[3]

There are 397 known graves in Alderney. Apart from malnutrition, accidents and ill treatment, there were losses on ships bringing OT workers to or taking them from Alderney. In January 1943 there was a big storm and two ships, the Xaver Dorsch and the Franks, anchored in Alderney harbour were blown ashore onto the beach, they contained about 1,000 Russian OT workers. Kept locked in the holds for two weeks whilst the ships were salvaged resulted in a number of deaths.[5]:77 [6]

On 4 July 1944 the Minotaure an ocean going tug sailing from Alderney to St Malo with about 500 OT workers was hit three times by torpedoes but somehow managed to stay afloat, some 250 died with the ship being towed into St Malo. Two of the escort vessels, V-208 (Walther Darré) and V-210 (Hinrich Hey) were sunk.[5]:81

Documents from the ITS Archives in Germany show prisoners of numerous nationalities were incarcerated in Alderney, with many dying on the island. The causes of death included suicide, pneumonia, being shot, heart failure and explosions. Detailed death certificates were filled out and the deaths were reported to OT in St Malo.[7]:212–4

Post war[edit]

After World War II, a court-martial case was prepared against former SS Hauptsturmführer Max List, citing atrocities on Alderney.[8] However, he did not stand trial,[why?] and is believed to have lived near Hamburg until his death in the 1980s.[9]

The four German camps in Alderney have not been preserved or commemorated, aside from a small plaque at the former SS camp Lager Sylt. One camp is now a tourist camping site, while the gates to another form the entrance to the island's rubbish tip. The other two have been left to fall into ruin and become overgrown by brambles.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Matisson Consultants, Aurigny ; un camp de concentration nazi sur une île anglo-normande (English: Alderney, a Nazi concentration camp on an Anglo-Norman island ) (in French), archived from the original on 2014-02-20, retrieved 2009-06-06
  2. ^ Christian Streit: Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die Sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen, 1941-1945, Bonn: Dietz (3. Aufl., 1. Aufl. 1978), ISBN 3-8012-5016-4 - "Between 22 June 1941 and the end of the war, roughly 5.7 million members of the Red Army fell into German hands. In January 1945, 930,000 were still in German camps. A million at most had been released, most of whom were so-called "volunteers" (Hilfswillige) for (often compulsory) auxiliary service in the Wehrmacht. Another 500,000, as estimated by the Army High Command, had either fled or been liberated. The remaining 3,300,000 (57.5% of the total) had perished."
  3. ^ a b Subterranea Britannica (February 2003), SiteName: Lager Sylt Concentration Camp, retrieved 2009-06-06
  4. ^ Turner, Barry (1 April 2011). Outpost of Occupation: The Nazi Occupation of the Channel Islands, 1940-1945. Aurum Press. ISBN 978-1845136222.
  5. ^ a b Dafter, Ray. Guernsey Wrecks. Matfield Books. ISBN 0-9540595-0-6.
  6. ^ "M/V XAVER DORSCH (1940-1944)".
  7. ^ Cruickshank, Charles (30 June 2004). The German Occupation of the Channel Islands. The History Press. ISBN 978-0750937498.
  8. ^ Frederick Cohen, President of the Jersey Jewish Congregation The Jews in the Channel Islands During the German Occupation 1940-1945
  9. ^ Guy Walters, The Occupation; ISBN 0-7553-2066-2

Coordinates: 49°43′N 2°12′W / 49.717°N 2.200°W / 49.717; -2.200