A video of Dr Gilly Carr was filmed in Cambridge earlier this year as part of a panel discussion on the Second World War and Holocaust. She talked about her research into Alderney’s two concentration camps and two slave labour camps, as well as the possibility of mass graves in Alderney. She noted that when she went there, none of the sites were marked.
‘There’s a very hostile local community, that doesn’t want anyone to come in and tell them what to do,’ she said.
Because of that, she said they had chosen to put up QR codes, rather than signs, to mark sites.
‘Because the local population is very hostile and doesn’t want to be reminded that they’re living on top of a concentration camp, we realised that if we put big information signs boards up, they’re just going to rip them down.’
The video was shared widely online yesterday, leading Dr Carr to comment on it.
She said she had been speaking at a closed meeting with Israeli colleagues, who were facing hostility in their heritage research.
She was asked to talk about her work and experiences and used Alderney as an example.
She has visited Alderney several times for research and had a warm welcome, but said she had also faced hostility when presenting the proposal for the project
‘I’m sorry and I regret the words I used,’ she said yesterday.
‘I wouldn’t have said the same in front of people from Alderney. I wanted my colleagues to know that I relate to them.
‘It’s been blown out of proportion. People will always be defiant and find anything to say that we already have a number [of deaths] in mind. We don’t. Each individual that we come across means closure for the dead and closure for the family. We are recognising those who can’t speak for themselves.’
States of Alderney President William Tate commented on the video. ‘We do not recognise the characterisation of Alderney people as a hostile community,’ he said, prior to Dr Carr’s apology.
‘Alderney is acutely aware of the tragedy that took place in their absence during the Occupation following the Evacuation. We live day by day with constant reminders of that terrible time. We will never forget the ultimate price that was paid by those innocent victims.’
Alderney has the Hammond memorial, which was built by islanders to remember the slaves and forced labourers who were brought to the island during the war. A sign was also recently erected at Lager Sylt forced labour camp, giving details of the history of the site.
Lord Eric Pickles is leading a review into the evidence of how many people died in Alderney during the war and Dr Carr is one of the expects on the panel.
The YouTube video was shared online by the Channel Islands World War 2 Remembrance Campaign Group.
Group lead Kev South said the language Dr Carr used did call the inquiry into question.
‘It’s inappropriate,’ he said.