Learn about the history of Nazi sites on Alderney and the IHRA’s involvement with safeguarding them.

Brief history of Alderney concentration camp sites

Four named Nazi labor camps, two of which later became concentration camps, and several temporary camp sites were located on the island of Alderney, Channel Islands, from 1941 onwards. A minimum of between 7608-7812 people were sent there to work for the occupiers; the numbers who died have recently been calculated as lying between 641-1027.

During the German occupation, various categories of laborers of c. 30 nationalities brought from across Europe to build fortifications. Camps were set up to house them under the auspices of the Organization Todt. From 1943, two camps, Lager Sylt and Lager Norderney, were run by the SS; Jewish prisoners were predominantly imprisoned in the latter. It is likely that prisoners from across Europe were murdered in both camps, in addition to deaths from starvation, overwork, and disease. In 1944, the camps closed, and most but not all surviving inmates were transferred from the island to camps in mainland Europe.

After the war, the land upon which the camps were built were returned to private ownership, and the remaining camp buildings that survived were used for firewood or sold off. In 1966, the Hammond Memorial was erected on the island to remember the foreign laborers brought to the island. One former prisoner returned to place a memorial plaque on the entrance gate in 2008, but no other official acknowledgment existed until an information plaque was erected in 2023. In other places, residential housing, a holiday camp, and a farm were variously installed on the former campsites without in situ memorialization. Mass exhumations from a demarcated cemetery were carried out on Longis Common after the war and in the 1960s, and the site is now common land used for dog walking. Non-invasive archaeological research suggests the presence of further mass graves in that area. In general, archaeological evidence of the camps survives under vegetation across Alderney.

IHRA activities with Safeguarding Sites Project chaired by Gilly Carr

Preliminary visit by Gilly Carr, Lord Eric Pickles and Sally Sealey

Until very recently, the sites of the camps in Alderney remained unmarked. In July 2019, the UK Head and Deputy Head of Delegation to the IHRA, Lord Eric Pickles and Sally Sealey, and Safeguarding Sites IHRA Project Chair Gilly Carr made a preliminary trip to Alderney. They visited four camp sites:  

  • SS Lager Sylt, which was overgrown save for a plaque erected on an entrance post by a Polish former prisoner in 2008;  
  • Lager Norderney, which was being used as Alderney’s holiday camp site;  
  • Lager Borkum, located at the entrance to the road leading to the island’s tip, the impot; and  
  • Lager Helgoland, which had a house built on it. 

None of these sites were marked as heritage sites; none had an information panel at the site acknowledging its boundaries, function, or role.  

The visiting group was also taken to Longis Common to view the site of the former prisoner cemetery, now suggested to have been both a smaller “show cemetery” surrounded by other mass graves. This site was also lacking a marker, although the nearby Hammond Memorial bears memorial plaques commemorating the various nationalities who died on the island during the German occupation. 

These site visits were followed by a meeting with the States of Alderney, the members of the local parliament. Gilly Carr emphasized to the local politicians that Alderney was not alone in experiencing difficulties and social divisions in finding a resolution for its difficult heritage, and that communities all over Europe struggle with the very same issues. By working with international experts experienced in Holocaust heritage, potential solutions would be shared with Alderney through a process of mutual learning, openness, and discussion.  

Safeguarding Sites IHRA Project visit

The IHRA’s involvement with Alderney began in earnest in 2019 in connection with the Safeguarding Sites IHRA Project. The project team, which has visited a series of Holocaust-related sites to inform the development of a charter to address challenges to them, chose Alderney for their first site visit. This was not least because of the specific complexities of the heritage of the island.

“I was keen to bring my team to Alderney because the British Isles – specifically, the Channel Islands – have important Holocaust and Nazi persecution sites, just like other places in Europe. We want to visit a range of countries and sites during the length of the project, including concentration camps, ghettos, mass graves, killing sites and prisons. Many people are unaware that any part of the British Isles was occupied during the Second World War; bringing Alderney into the project connects the island to the European family of countries with a similar dark past and a range of difficult sites that present a challenge to local populations.”

– IHRA Project Chair Gilly Carr

In late September 2019, Project Chair Gilly Carr returned to the island with a team of six IHRA colleagues from the Safeguarding Sites IHRA Project team. On this occasion, a more in-depth exploration of a greater number of sites took place, followed by a day of meetings with the States of Alderney. 

The expert team comprised Gilly Carr and Sally Sealey, and project team members Steven Cooke (Australian IHRA delegation), Alicja Białecka (Polish IHRA delegation), Ophelia Leon (an invited expert advisor from ICMEMO), and project research assistant Margaret Comer (University of Cambridge). 

Local historian Colin Partridge showed the team the Nazi sites around the island. In addition to the sites visited in July, the team were shown a wall covered in what appeared to be bullet holes, said by survivors to have been an execution site; the decaying Alderney prison, used by the occupiers during the war; and the island’s museum. 

During their meeting with the States Members of Alderney’s parliament, the team thanked the politicians for engaging with them on the project and offered some preliminary suggestions for moving forward. These included updating the local Historic Buildings Register to include Second World War sites of significance, such as the labor and concentration camps and related sites, and starting educational projects through partnerships.  

The States Members asked the team for advice in dealing with the issues surrounding Lager Norderney and the graves on Longis Common. There was also a request to discuss bringing the exhibition On British Soil: Victims of Nazism in the Channel Islands to the island. This exhibition, co-curated by Gilly Carr, had recently been shown at the Wiener Holocaust Library in London and at Guernsey Museum. 

The team’s efforts to assess the existing risks facing the former Nazi camps on the island and discuss steps that could be taken to safeguard the record continued throughout 2020. The resulting 8 recommendations for Alderney, presented in 2021, intend to help safeguard the record in a sensitive manner empathetic to the Alderney community. The plan envisaged a digital strategy, which would operate parallel to activities to safeguard the remnants of the camps, present accurate information about them, and partner with the local community.  

8 Recommendations for Alderney

The eight recommendations for Alderney were to:   

  1. Improve mapping, liaising with the Land Registry to ensure sites relating to the German Occupation are included  
  2. Produce a dedicated website about the site  
  3. Provide education materials for schools  
  4. Ensure the four labor camps and other sites of historic interest are “listed” 
  5. Stage an exhibition (virtual or in-person)  
  6. Provide signage at all sites  
  7. Mark the boundary of the burial site on Longis Common  
  8. Provide new exhibits for the Alderney Museum  

Presenting recommendations on Alderney


30 November 2014

“What Britain Knew: The Holocaust and Nazi Crimes” conference is held during the Manchester Plenary Meetings under the UK IHRA Presidency.

Experts examine the relationships Britain had with the rest of Europe, especially in light of the movement of people and intelligence across continents.

Dr. Caroline Sturdy Colls, Associate Professor of Forensic Archaeology and Genocide Investigation, presents on the network of concentration and labor camps that existed on the island of Alderney in the British Channel Islands. 

12 July 2019

Members of the UK delegation to the IHRA make a preliminary tour of four sites of Nazi persecution on Alderney and meet with the States of Alderney, the members of the local parliament.  

25-28 September 2019

First Safeguarding Sites IHRA Project field trip. The team visits Alderney to assess the risks facing former Nazi camps on the Channel Island and begin discussing steps that could be taken to address them.  

7-9 July 2021

8 recommendations to safeguard sites on the island are presented to the Alderney community.

This time, the IHRA delegation comprises Lord Eric Pickles (UK Head of Delegation of the IHRA), Gilly Carr (member of the UK delegation to the IHRA, Safeguarding Sites IHRA Project Chair), and Sally Sealey (UK Deputy Head of Delegation to the IHRA).

Hosted by President William Tate, the team also meets with States Members of Alderney’s parliament and other stakeholders.  


The UK government announces an expert review into the number of prisoners who died in camps on Alderney. This will help educate the public on the facts of the Holocaust in Britain and ensure appropriate commemoration of those who died. 

22 May 2024

The UK Special Envoy for Post Holocaust Issues Lord Pickles announces the findings of the expert review.

The dozen experts are able to give the most accurate possible assessment of how many prisoners and laborers died on Alderney between 1941 to 1945, as well as information on why no one was tried for the war crimes committed on the island.

Learn about risks to sites and their solutions

Hover over the data visualization to explore.

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