Alderney Holocaust and Slave Labour Trail
(c) Marcus Roberts 2014.


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There was an important Jewish presence on the island and while it tends to be maintained that the Russians were the most numerous group on the island, a review of the evidence undertaken as part of this research suggests that the Jews may have been the majority, at least at some points, in the island's penal history, particularly in 1942 - 1943. A report written in September 1943, to the French police, and later found in one of the payments of the sub-prefecture of Cherbourg, was originally submitted by a French worker who had been on Alderney working at the harbour, warning the authorities of the terrible conditions for prisoners of the island concentration camp, states, 'The informant believes that at the present time the workers of the island are largely Jews who are subjected to a very hard regime.' This may have referenced Jews held at New Town Camp, who were engaged at the Harbour, as well as Helgoland.

We also find that the MI 19 report of 1943 says that Helgoland Camp may have been predominantly Jewish, from 1942 to 1943 and likewise, Lager Sylt may have had a majority of Jewish prisoners once it became an SS Camp, in 1 March 1943. The MI 19 report states that by February 1944, some 900 multi-national political prisoners were left in Sylt including some 600 Jews. This view is also reinforced by the ITS index card, on the history of Baubrigade I located at Lager Sylt, which states that Lager Sylt may have received groups, from both Baubrigade I:I Cdo. of C.C. Sachsenhausen and Baubrigagde I:II - Cdo of C.C. Neuengamme respectively.

It may also be stated that Norderney Camp had a separate Jewish section, and some of these Jews, as well as 'Arabs' from Algeria and Morocco, arrived in a convoy from Compiegne, on September 9, 1943. The testimony of Reuven Freidman, suggests that there may have been 800 Jews in the camp. On the 6 - 7 May 1944, there was a major transportation of c. 800 Jews from Norderney, towards Neuengamme concentration camp. Some escaped en route, the remaining 500 are eventually diverted to Lager Tibor, at Dannes, and to Lager Braunek in Boulogne, due to bombing.
The Red Cross also recorded that two groups of Jews and North Africans, each of around 200 men were, 'transferred from Norderney Camp to an unknown destination because they were unable to work' in January and March 1944. A List of Jews and North Africans working for the Todt organization who had been released for sick leave due to disease in 1944 survives in the Pas de Calais archives, suggesting a lucky few survived being unfit to work.

Many of the Jews were included in the French contingent and had been spared immediate deportation from France, to death in East, because they were married to 'Aryans' and were designated 'Conjoint Aryenne', or were half Jewish ('mischling')or 'demi- Aryenne' which gave them a degree of protection from deportation to Kaunas or Auschwitz. Many of the Jews were middle-class professionals before the war and were regarded as 'intellectuals'.

It seems that the Germans deliberately deported many of the French Jewish elite, intelligentsia and middle-class professionals to Alderney. Some of the names given in the French report of September 1943, to the French police referred to previously states: 'Many of them, before the occupation, were important personalities: the informant quotes: Weil, former ambassador of France in Japan, Kaiffa merchant of exotic food products. Deligneres, domiciled in the Rue l'Etoile in Paris, the lawyer of Gorguiloff. They are particularly bullied by their guardians. Many of them were dispossessed of their jewels and valuable clothes that possessed at their arrival.' We may also add to this list M. Theodore Valensi, Advocat at the Court of Appeal in Paris, whose pre-war calling card and photograph is preserved at the Memorial de la Shoah in Paris. In this photograph he appears manicured and sleek with a large and elaborate up-swept moustache and his lawyers vestments. There was also a world famous concert pianist who sought somehow to preserve his hands in the midst of extreme manual labour, Albert Eblagon who was the grandson of the former Chief Rabbi of Crete, as well as a Lieutenant Colonel. It is also noted in Spehr report that Drs Dreyfus and Katz were present on the island.

It seems that 400 of these Jews were deported from Querqueville OT Camp, four miles from Cherbourg, in two main transports, when the camp was liquidated in August to October, 1943.

A group of 700 Jews had been sent from Drancy camp to the Cherbourg area on 10 July 1943, to participate in building the Atlantic wall and about half of these were sent on to Alderney to build 'Fortress Alderney' in August, though many were later returned to the French mainland to French camps.

However, it is important to add that there may have been an additional 1,000 Jews transferred with Baubrigage I, if the MI19 and ITS reports are correct. Furthermore, we do not know how many Jews were present on the island working at the initial New Town Camp, or if there were other groups of Jews deported to Alderney and killed in the execution of tunnelling works, but to whom there is no witness.

It is very difficult to estimate the number of Jews who were deported to Alderney,though the snap-shots provided by the sources above suggests that the New Town, Helgoland, Sylt and Norderney Camps, maintained populations of 6-800 Jewish prisoners each at certain points, so a Jewish cohort of nearly 3,000 seems quite probable at any one point in time. One also needs to add to the picture that the camp populations were not static, as prisoners who died, or were killed, needed to be replaced and prisoners were moved from place to place as required, so many more Jews could have passed through Alderney in total and some groups may not have had surviving witnesses. On this basis, an estimate of 9,000 Jews passing through the camps on Alderney may well be realistic, if the monthly death rate was between 5 - 15 per cent. It is also vital to add that 50,000 Jews, Communists and Partisans, were used as forced labour in France by the OT, which with the exception of the 85,000 Frenchmen used by the OT, in France, was the largest single element of all of the cohorts used by the OT. Therefore, it is entirely consistent for witnesses to claim that the majority of forced labourers in Alderney were Jews and this analysis would mean that around 20% of all the Jews slave labourers in France worked on Alderney.

On the death-rate of 5 - 15 per cent, this is based on the published figures of mortality at Neuengamme Camp. The internal statistics reveal that the most prisoners died in the main camp (particularly between October 1942 to June 1943), with a third less in the sub-camps where lighter industrial work was carried out (0,2 per cent to 5.7 per cent), except where prisoners in sub-camps were carrying out heavy work, when the mortality rate could equal or exceed that of the main camp. It would appear that the statistics for Neuengamme are a good proxy for the other OT camps, on the basis of the SS supervision of these camps and the reports of mortality by former prisoners and the types of heavy work being carried out.

While the majority of the Jews were French, others came from across Europe, from Poland, Russia, Romania, Czeckslovakia, and a few from North Africa.
There were some Jews whose Jewish identity was not known to the German, for example there were Jews among the Russian and Ukrainian inmates, some of whom were betrayed to the Germans. There were also Jews in the SS contingent sent to Camp Sylt. It is important to note that we know of only two convoys transferring Jews back from Alderney to France. In November 1943, a contingent (number unspecified) of French Jewish prisoners from Alderney (Auigny) were transferred to Dannes and the same happened on 7 May, 1944, when 650 Jewish prisoners were evacuated from Alderney (Aurigny) by boat to Cherbourg and 500 of that group were sent to Dannes.

It is difficult to estimate the death rate for Jews on Alderney, though at least 650+ survived long enough to be deported back to France, to an uncertain fate. However, the 'Reports Definitif' on the NW French camps, produced at the end of the War, suggests a global death-rate of 85% in the German concentration camps. It may be observed that Jews were 54% of all those deported from France, but of all the 75,721 Jews deported from France, only 3% returned at the end of the war. It is may be assumed that only a small proportion survived the war and these would have been mostly those retained in the camps in NW France. It also seems certain that many more Jews died on Alderney itself than indicated by the 8 Jewish graves on Longis Common and that this figure may be considerable if many of the Baubrigade prisoners were indeed Jews.

There were also Black Africans part of a group called ZKZ. This was a group of North Africans and Indo-Chinese arrested in Marseille - they were in Norderney and were in the camp with 700 Jews. There were also three Chinese and one Italian. Some of these foreigners may have been rounded up and arrested in France on the basis of having inadequate registration papers. A witness also said that the island was over-run with French men, Berbers and Spanish reds'
New Town was a small, probably temporary camp of which little is known, though the camp is marked on a British intelligence map created at the end of the occupation and it buildings can be seen in photographs. Citadella is significant as it was a camp for Moroccan forced labourers, former of a group of billets in the centre of St Anne's, but little is known of it and it seems to have only had a short existence.

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