Alderney: Lack of war crimes trials after Nazi occupation of Channel Island is a 'stain on reputation of UK governments', peer says

The lack of "war crimes trials" for the "outrages and the murders" committed by the Nazis on the island of Alderney is a "stain on the reputations of successive British governments", a Conservative peer has said.

Lord Eric Pickles, the UK's special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, made the remarks in a report that aims to "provide the most accurate figure possible" for the number of people who died during the Nazi occupation of the British Crown dependency between 1941 and 1945.

Thousands of forced and slave labourers were transported from countries across Europe and brought to Alderney, one of the Channel Islands, to construct fortifications for the Germans during World War Two.

They were housed in camps where they faced poor living and working conditions and possible execution.

The expert review panel that carried out the research for Lord Pickles' report said the minimum number of prisoners or labourers sent to Alderney during the Nazi occupation stands between 7,608 to 7,812 people.

Death figures calculated after the island was liberated by the British in 1945 originally suggested that 389 people died as a result of poor treatment or execution.

However, since then claims "advanced in mainstream and social media" have said the number of deaths was in the "many thousands", the review states.

The twelve members of the Alderney Expert Review Panel have said their research suggests the number of deaths on the island is actually more likely to be between 641 and 1,027.

The panel also concluded that claims Alderney constituted a "mini-Auschwitz" are unsubstantiated.

Lord Pickles writes in the report: "Numbers do matter. It is as much of a Holocaust distortion to exaggerate the number of deaths as it is to underplay the numbers. Exaggeration plays into the hands of Holocaust deniers and undermines the six million dead. The truth can never harm us."

Mr Pickles also writes that as the research was carried out it became "increasingly clear" that the lack of war crimes trials for the "outrages and murders" committed by the Nazis on Alderney was an "issue that must be addressed".

He adds: "(The perpetrators) should have faced British justice. The fact that they did not is a stain on the reputations of successive British governments."

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Professor Anthony Glees, one of the twelve panel members, adds that Britain's failure to mount a war crimes trial in Alderney following the liberation of the Channel Islands represents an "egregious injustice".

Professor Glees states that an investigation carried out by British war crimes investigator Captain Theodore Pantcheff in 1945 was "wholly serious in intent".

However, the case was handed to the Russians because the majority of victims were Soviet citizens.

Soon after the British were given, and brought to justice, the Germans who murdered British servicemen in Stalag Luft III during "the Great Escape".

The Soviet Union did not follow up the Alderney case and was therefore responsible for the failure to bring the perpetrators to justice, causing much anger among members of the British government, the review states.

Speaking after the publication of the report, Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis KBE said: "The findings of the Alderney Review are a significant and welcome development.

"Having an authoritative account of this harrowing element of the island's history is vital. It enables us to accurately remember the individuals who so tragically suffered and died on British soil. Marking the relevant sites will now be an appropriate step to take, to ensure that this information is widely available."