15 October 2023: Guest-authored prisoner stories
We are pleased to announce the beginning of a new feature for the website: guest-authored prisoner stories. We invite relatives of those whose family members were in Alderney, whether they survived or not, to submit their stories for showcasing on this website. Today we welcome the stories of four Spanish men, all of them Spanish Republicans (Florencio Cascarosa Pirla and Florencio Cascarosa Perez).
If you have a family story to share, please look at the format of the prisoner story for the kinds of information needed (such as date of birth and death, date of arrival in Alderney, camp / workplace in Alderney, etc). We also encourage scanned photos of the person named. Please get in contact through the website.
2 August 2023: insight into methods used by Alderney Expert Review Team
On 2 August, the Guernsey Press published an article by Dr Gilly Carr, one of the team members of Lord Pickles’ Expert Review, which explained just some of the methods that the team will use when calculating both those who came to Alderney during the Occupation and those who died.
There are, perhaps, misconceptions about how this work can be done and what counts as a legitimate way of counting and what does not. One of the greatest worries among some Islanders would appear to be that the team would count rumours, myths and stories passed down through families as a way of counting. While these stories are always interesting, historians cannot rely on them or use them for counting. Only archival sources will be used.
Fortunately for the Expert Review team, the methods for this sort of counting were established after the Holocaust as families, communities and countries calculated their losses. Such methods work equally well regardless of religion of the dead. Following the IHRA’s work on making sure Holocaust-related files across Europe are open, the team have free access to the files they will need to do their work. It is important to stress that no human remains will be disturbed. We encourage you to read the article to find out more.
27 July 2023: The Alderney Expert Review is launched
Today Lord Eric Pickles launched the Alderney expert review. Its remit is to identify the number of people who died in Alderney during the Occupation and to identify how many were sent to the island. By calculating how many were sent to the island, this gives a cap or upper limit on those who could have died, although current figures show that the majority who were sent to Alderney survived.
The review calls upon members of the public to submit their theories, numbers and evidence for checking by the expert team. In this way, everyone can contribute to resolving this debate.
As Lord Pickles stated on Twitter, the review is underpinned by the support from Jewish community organisations and Holocaust remembrance ones, including the Association of Jewish Refugees, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Wiener Holocaust Library, the Holocaust Educational Trust, Yad Vashem, and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. He added that ‘there is now no reasonable excuse for anyone with knowledge of the numbers to fail to submit evidence to the Review. The truth cannot hurt us.’
23 July 2023: Lord Eric Pickles to launch expert review on Alderney numbers
It was announced in the national and international news this week that Lord Eric Pickles, the UK’s Post-Holocaust Issues Envoy and Head of the UK’s Delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, is to launch an expert review into the numbers who died in Alderney during the Occupation. When the expert review is launched, the terms will be reported here too.
There have been competing theories in newspapers in recent years about how many died in the island during the Occupation. This is disruptive for the local population. As Lord Pickles has been quoted as saying, both minimising and inflating numbers who died during the Holocaust is Holocaust distortion. For the sake of the dead and their families, it is important to find resolution around the number of those who died so the matter can be laid to rest.
April 2023: Piers Secunda's exhibition 'Alderney: The Holocaust on British Soil'
In March and April 2023, the artist Piers Secunda presented his art exhibition Alderney: the Holocaust on British Soil at 4 Cromwell Place in London. Secunda works by taking plaster casts of parts of sites of conflict and, through art, discusses their role as evidence of what happened there. Associated with Secunda’s exhibition was a film made of his work in Alderney filmed by Eduardo Jose Lins. Moulding Alderney can be watched here. The film concerns, primarily, an inner wall of the fort at Platte Saline which is covered in bullet marks. A ballistics expert came to view the wall and he identified the pattern of marks, their width and depth, as consistent with what one might expect from execution. Further, traces of rifle bullets of a type used by the Germans during the occupation were found in the wall.
Secunda has also given a public lecture at JW3 titled “Alderney: An Execution Wall And Its Forensic Evidence.” Viewers are encouraged to watch the lecture to understand the evidence and theory provided. Secunda notes that “the film is a presentation of the findings of two professors of Forensic Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York: Nicholas Petraco and Peter Diaczuk. Both examined a heavily bullet damaged wall inside the British Victorian fort at Platte Saline, on Alderney in May 2022. Between them, Nicholas and Peter have given over 600 expert forensic testimonies to civil, criminal procedures and trials. With a total between them, of over 70 years of forensic work. Both are specialists in gun crime, laboratory analysis, physical evidence, crime scene investigation and reconstruction, firearms, damage pattern analysis, microscopy, firearms residue, bullet analysis, bullet impact damage, trace element analysis, bullet ricochet and shooting reconstruction.”
Academic research always depends on peer review by other experts before it can be accepted and published. As the evidence provided here, while compelling, has yet to go through this process, we must wait before accepting this theory. Until then, the viewer is encouraged to watch these films in their entirety and then make up their own mind.