Up to 1,134 prisoners died during Nazi Occupation of Alderney in Second World War

  • ITV Channel's Emma Volney reflects on the report's findings

An investigation has revealed the true extent of Nazi war crimes committed against slave workers shipped to the Channel Island of Alderney during the Second World War.

Findings published in a new report commissioned by UK Holocaust Envoy Lord Pickles reveal up to 1,134 prisoners died, with a probable range of between 641 and 1,027.

That is far greater than the previous official figure of 389, estimated after a study of unmarked graves several decades ago.

The purpose of the investigation was to finally decide a true figure of how many people died during the German Occupation and to, in the words of Lord Eric Pickles, "provide dignity to the dead and peace to the people of Alderney, who continue to remember them".

He added: "Claims of mass murder that anywhere else would be checked carefully have been accepted at face value. A letter from Reichsfuhrer-SS Himmler published decades ago is presented as an "exclusive" breakthrough. Third or fourth-hand testimonies of atrocities, without any supporting evidence, are given as fact.

"Anyone with the temerity to question such assertions is accused of being part of a 'cover-up'.

"What happened on Alderney was bad enough with its brutality, sadism and murder, without the need for embellishment."

Lord Pickles visited the Channel Islands as part of the review into the atrocities committed during the Occupation. Credit: ITV Channel

The review found that the highest number of deaths occurred between 1942 and 1944 and most of the victims were Eastern European.

More than 7,000 slave workers were shipped to Alderney during the Occupation to build fortifications for Hitler's Atlantic Wall.

These people were largely kept in labour camps where they endured starvation, long working hours, beatings, maiming, torture and, in some cases, executions.

Researchers have found evidence that suggests, on a few occasions, bodies were even dumped into the sea.

However, claims that Alderney constituted a 'mini-Auschwitz' remain unsubstantiated and there is no evidence that the island ever housed an extermination camp.

Despite the suffering inflicted, virtually none of the German perpetrators were ever brought to justice because it emerged that in September 1945, the British government handed the case over to the USSR who did nothing with it.

Lord Pickles explained: "They should have faced British justice. The fact they did not is a stain on the reputations of successive British governments."

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