Guernsey Press

Alderney’s Nazi labour camps could be protected by law

Alderney is considering protecting the sites of two Second World War labour camps by declaring them conservation areas.

Last updated
The gates of the former labour camp known as Helgoland now form the entrance to a private house which is being renovated. Lord Eric Pickles, Professor Gilly Carr and Professor Sally Sealey inspected the gates during a visit to the island. (Picture by David Nash)

In addition to the proposed change of status of Lager Borkum and Lager Norderney, it is possible that three pairs of gateposts at Lager Helgoland will be registered under laws protecting historic buildings.

Building and Development Control Committee chairman Kevin Gentle said his committee had been asked to explore the listing of sites by the senior committee, Policy & Finance.

‘The effect of a heritage designation is that future development proposals would need to demonstrate that they would preserve or enhance the significance or character of the building or area in question,’ said Mr Gentle.

He said the request was made after P&R recently received a letter from Lord Eric Pickles, the UK’s post-Holocaust issues envoy, who has been leading a review of Occupation-era deaths in Alderney which is due to publish its findings next week.

Much of Lager Norderney is now a campsite owned by the States, with the exceptions of a farmhouse and cottages. The other sites are largely in private hands.

‘Landowners will be consulted in due course and their views will be considered before any final decision is made,’ said Mr Gentle.

Lager Borkum, near the island’s south coast, was built around Longis House, a residence situated on the south side of Longis Road. The camp housed labourers who were recruited for specialist tasks and had slightly less harsh conditions than others.

Lager Norderney was originally conceived as a housing complex for volunteer labourers and then as an Organisation Todt camp. By March 1942 it was the largest of the four main camps on the island.

The SS took control of it in 1943 and Lord Pickles’ enquiry has referred to it as the island’s second concentration camp.

Lager Helgoland, in the north-west corner of Alderney, was constructed early in 1942 and become the second-largest Organisation Todt forced labour camp on the island.

Mr Gentle said that the Helgoland site could not be registered as a conservation area as it was now a housing estate.

‘The difference between this and the other sites is that the surviving features are very limited, so registering it as a conservation area would be inappropriate,’ he said.

Most members of P&F wanted to see the sites given formal protection, but Boyd Kelly voted against registering Lager Norderney and Lager Helgoland.