- Country: Alderney, The Channel Islands
- Operational: N/A - Active
By Caroline Sturdy Colls and Kevin Colls
A camp named ‘Citadella’ has been referred to in post-war literature about Alderney’s occupation and its location has been the source of much speculation and debate. A camp with this name was initially described by Alfred Herzka based on his work with materials collected by the International Red Cross in the 1950s.1 However, in the absence of the specific information about its location, establishing exactly where Citadella was, or if it even existed, was difficult.
Local Alderney historian Colin Partridge later suggested that this camp was situated next to the German slaughterhouse off Le Val, while historians Michael Packe and Maurice Dreyfus referred to the camp at Newtown as a possible location.2 Some reports have suggested that Citadella might have housed Moroccan prisoners.3 Research undertaken between 2008 and 2011 by Prof Caroline Sturdy Colls suggested that one of two smaller camps might be the location for Citadella. The first was a camp for North African prisoners located off Hauteville.4 As this camp comprised a walled complex of houses within a town, some (albeit tangential) similarities with the architecture of some citadels are notable. Thus, if this camp was Citadella, this might offer as to the choice of this name. The second possibility is a camp at Le Vallée to which a contingent of North African prisoners housed in Hauteville were moved in 1944.
However, more recent archaeological research in the Arolsen Archives and other archives (including International Red Cross records) has revealed a report dated 1951 which may shed some further light on the so-called Citadella camp.5 This document refers to the existence of four camps on Alderney: ‘Heligoland’ (Helgoland), ‘Le Bochum’ (Borkum), ‘Norderney’ and ‘la citadelle/de citadel’ (the citadel).6 The latter was reportedly ‘occupied by Russians and Germans (politicals, anti-Nazis, conscientious objectors, common law)’, an accurate description of Sylt concentration camp which was not named separately in the document.7 Therefore, it is possible that is actually a description of Sylt, rather than a fifth named camp. This would certainly not be the only example of where alternative names were used to describe the main camps. For example, in a newspaper report published the day after the liberation of Alderney (17 May 1945), one of the first journalists to set foot on the island noted that some prisoners referred to ‘the concentration camp’ (likely Sylt but possibly Norderney) as ‘Cassette’, while a former OT labourer referred to a camp called ‘Chateau’ in his testimony (most likely Norderney).8 Unfortunately, in the absence of further documentary sources, the mystery surrounding ‘Citadella’ remains unsolved but the discovery of new documentation has presented new lines of inquiry that suggests that Citadella – a fifth main camp on Alderney – may never had existed at all.
1 Packe, M , and Dreyfus, M 1971 The Alderney Story, Alderney Society and Museum, p 60; A Herzka, ‘Talk on Slave Labour in Alderney’, Channel Islands Occupation Review 1 (1970)
2 Carr, G 2016 Legacies of Occupation Springer, p 157; Packe, M , and Dreyfus, M 1971 The Alderney Story, Alderney Society and Museum, p 60; Steckoll, S 1982 The Alderney Death Camp, Mayflower, p 27
3 Steckoll, S 1982 The Alderney Death Camp, Mayflower, p 27; Jean Vigla also refers to this camp as a camp for French people from the African battalions in Vigla, L’Évadé
4 TNA, HO 144/22834, ‘M I 19 RPS 2141, Report, Channel Islands, Alderney: further interrogation of informants of M I 19 (RPS) 2122 and 2136’, 19 April 1944; Michael Ginns has also suggested that Citadella was located on Hauteville n his book about Organisation Todt See M Ginns, ‘The Organisation Todt and the Fortress Engineers in the Channel Islands’, Channel Islands Occupation Society Archive Book 8, p 86
5 C Sturdy Colls and K S Colls ‘Adolf Island’: The Archaeology of the Occupation of Alderney (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2022)
6 ITS, 2 6 5 1/82370653, 30 December 1951
8 The Citizen, ‘Probe into Island Murders: Search Continues on Alderney’, 18 May 1945; ITS, 2 2 3 0/82361077, ‘Bogdanow, Vitali’, 15 February 1944