1. ITV Report

New documentary finds Alderney prisoner of war death toll to be almost double

The documentary estimates 700 people lost their lives at the camp during the Occupation. Credit: Smithsonian Channel

A documentary investigating the number of deaths in Alderney during Nazi rule has found that the death toll could be almost double what was previously thought, due to the discovery of possible unmarked graves.

"Adolf Island", which premieres tonight, sees archaeologists research two sites used by the Nazis; Lager Sylt camp and the Slave Worker Cemetery at Longis Common.

The official number of forced and slave labourers who died in Alderney between 1940 and 1945 currently stands at less than 389. This is based on exhumations that took place in the 1960s.

The team has used non-invasive technology, paired with a decade of archive research to try to determine an accurate number of deaths.

The work has seen experts make a 3D model of the sites and use death and burial registers to estimate that around 700 people died at the camp.

Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls, who leads the investigation, says the war crimes have been played down and that the documentary is about telling the stories of people who lost their lives in Alderney during this time.

It remains a sensitive and controversial topic on the island for a number of reasons.

I think sometimes people think talking about this history somehow brings shame on the islands but I think it's so important to tell the stories of the people who were sent there. This is about what's happened in the past not shaming people in the present.

– Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls, Staffordshire University

Alderney's government says it welcomes the research.

There is no definitive account of everything that happened in Alderney but much has been pieced together through the records and publications that do exist.

There were hundreds of recorded deaths and burials which, after the War, were exhumed for reburial in France and elsewhere. Undoubtedly there are other deaths which occurred and there may be undiscovered burials on land.

– States of Alderney