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


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Conditions in the Camps

These concentration camps in both Alderney and the Nord Pas de Calais were primarily for forced labour, but secondarily the death of the inmates designated as racially inferior, or undeserving of life, over a period of weeks, or months, for which-ever cause be it, starvation, over-work, lack of medical care, accidents, beatings or out-right murder, was clearly regarded as desirable and the prisoners were regarded as expendable and were told that they would not survive their labours.

The regime and treatment of prisoners was essentially similar in the Alderney Camps to those nearby on the main land, at the Pas de Calais, but the evidence is that the death-rate among the prisoners was very much higher than on the main-land.

What made the camps on Alderney different and more deadly was due to a number of factors that together exerted strong attrition on the weakened prisoners. The principle factors were rampant starvation and dehydration. In terms of food and drink the prisoners had restricted access to other supplies of food, in terms of extra food or official rations or cigarettes, as it was a small highly controlled island, with few civilians and no local resistance who could help, though the prisoners did find many ingenious or stomach-turning ways to supplement their starvation rations (such as the Russians digging up intestines buried behind the slaughter house with their bare hands to satisfy their hunger) and some of the other higher-status prisoners, or German Army, were prepared to give food, even despite severe threats of punishment if they did so.

The prisoners were in many cases allowed to roam the island to forage food, as it gave the German excuse to feed the prisoners less, though many suffered food poisoning from hedgerow plants, if they had not been brought up in the countryside and did not know what was safe to eat. Other prisoners foraged on the shore-line where access was not denied by mine-fields and ate sea-weed or shell-fish. One worker once even managed to catch a shark which he exchanged for bread. Workers at the harbour were sometimes able to catch and eat raw octopus and conger eels, whose large size was probably due to their diet of dead Russians thrown off the end of the harbour break-water. However, slave workers of the SS Bau Brigade were often shot if seen looking for food and others could be randomly punished.

The already starvation rations for most of the slave worker was diminished even more as the result of serious and systematic scams. Members of the SS Bau Brigade stole and sold the prisoners rations of food for a considerable profit, significantly reducing the already tiny rations. It may be that some of the proceeds were used to create the SS still to make Schnapps and probably potatoes intended for the prisoners were diverted for making alcohol. A similar scam was also operated by the OT canteen and stores until the perpetrators were caught and severely punished. Also members of the French Petain Battalions swindled Jews out of food parcels that they had been commissioned to collect while on leave to France every three months. One German was told that in fact the rations for the German Company and the Russians was supposed to be the same and given the starvation he saw among the Russians and the well-fed OT personalities indulging in specially imported prostitutes, he concluded that this indicated the scale of the profits and the scam.

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