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Concentration Camp Lager Sylt

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Concentration Camp Lager Sylt

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Date Posted:May 28th, 2008
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Description: Lager Sylt was the name of the Nazi concentration camp on Alderney in the Channel Islands between March 1943 and June 1944. It is thought to have been mainly a labour camp with possibly 1,000 inmates. 460 people are believed to have died in the Alderney camps. These were the only Nazi concentration camps to have existed on British soil.

It was organised by the Schutzstaffel - SS-Baubrigade I and ran as the Neuengamme camp in northern Germany; it was located near the old telegraph tower at La Foulère. It was used by Organisation Todt, a forced labour programme, to build bunkers, gun emplacements, air-raid shelters, and concrete fortifications.

The prisoners were from Russia and Europe, usually the east, but including Spanish Republicans. Some of the few remaining unevacuated Alderney natives (round about 2% of the population) also found themselves in there. In 1942, Lager Norderney, containing Russian and Polish POWs, and Lager Sylt, holding Jews, were placed under the control of SS Hauptsturmführer Max List. Over 700 of the inmates are said to have lost their lives before the camps were closed and the remaining inmates transferred to Germany in 1944.

Alderney has been nicknamed "the island of silence", due to the fact that little is known about what occurred there during the occupation. The rest of the island was heavily fortified, mainly through the slave labour of the camp inmates. The German officer left in charge of the facilities, Commandant Oberst Schwalm, burned the camps to the ground and destroyed all records connected with their use before the island was liberated by British forces on 16 May 1945. The German garrison on Alderney surrendered a week after the other Channel Islands, and was one of the last garrisons to surrender in Europe. The population were unable to start returning until December 1945.

The States (Alderney's governing body) decline to commemorate the sites of the four labour camps. Local historian Colin Partridge feels this may be due to the locals' desire to dissociate themselves from the accusations of collaboration. A faded memorial plate, tucked away behind the island's parish church, vaguely mentions 45 Soviet citizens who died on Alderney in 1940-45, without saying how they died and why.

It was named after the North Frisian Island of Sylt.

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