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‘Rubbish’ that German activity went unseen

Alderney | Published:

A NEW film about wartime Alderney turns on its head the idea that the island was abandoned to leave only slave labourers and their guards.

Charlie Gauvain interviewing for his film, Alderney: The War Years. (20346179)

Charlie Gauvain – whose family is from the island – is putting the finishing touches to his film Alderney: The War Years, which completes a trilogy that also includes documentaries on the evacuation and the Homecoming.

The filmmaker describes the Occupation as the most challenging story to capture of the three because of the limited number of eye witnesses who could produce testimonies. So he scoured archives at Kew, in Germany and in Russia for information that would paint a picture of Alderney from 1940-45.

But it was an archive closer to home that yielded the biggest surprise – in Guernsey.

‘There was meticulous detail of people going back and forth from the islands – agricultural workers, electricians and so on. The idea that no one was around to see what the Germans were up to was rubbish. Even once the camps were built they didn’t hide themselves away.

‘Between 1941 and the end of ’42 into ’43 there were people from Guernsey travelling back and forth on a regular basis. We have documents listing over 100 local Guernsey workers in Alderney in 1941 and the working parties for farming were on the island for around two years at least. Even once the camps were built in 1942, Guernsey people were still in Alderney and that went throughout the war, although the numbers probably dropped in 1943 and ’44. There were also 13 court cases against Guernseymen who had looted from the island.’

All three films will be shown on Thursday and Saturday mornings during the Heritage Festival (30 March to 10 May 2018) and on 7 April they will be shown at Tourgis Battery No.3, with local food cooked on-site.

Full story in today's Guernsey Press

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