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SS soldiers got extra leave for every 5 dead prisoners

Uncovered report reveals details of UK island’s Nazi concentration camp killings

British intelligence officer compiled document on WWII German camps on Channel Islands where hundreds of people, many of them Jewish, were killed or died under brutal conditions

The old gateposts to Lager Sylt on the island of Alderney, 2012. (CC BY-SA 2.0/ John Rostron)
The old gateposts to Lager Sylt on the island of Alderney, 2012. (CC BY-SA 2.0/ John Rostron)

A report compiled on Nazi concentration and death camps set up on the British Channel Islands during World War II that was uncovered in the Russian State Archives details some of the atrocities that led to the deaths of at least 700 people incarcerated at the sites.

Sections of the “Report on Atrocities Committed in Alderney, 1942-1945” were published Sunday by The Times newspaper in the UK.

The report was compiled by intelligence officer Captain Theodore Pantcheff for the British government after the Channel Island of Alderney was liberated in 1945 when Germany was defeated in the war.

The history of the Nazi occupation of Alderney is murky because the residents were evacuated before the Germans came in 1940, leaving few witnesses. The Channel Islands were the only part of the British Isles occupied by the Germans in the war.

Pantcheff spoke to German guards and prisoners and estimated the number of people who died on the island to be about 400. The number was accepted by his superiors, who were allegedly embarrassed that the Nazis had set up a camp on British soil.

The prisoner kitchen cellar at the Sylt concentration camp on the island of Alderney. (Centre of Archaeology, Staffordshire University/ via Antiquity Publications)

Accepted histories of Alderney hold that there were some 6,000 Jewish and Russian slave laborers on the island who were brought there to build massive fortifications.

Most of those sent to the camps were Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilians. There were also French Jews, along with German and Spanish political prisoners. They were held in at least two camps at Lager Sylt and Lager Norderney.

Contrary to Pantcheff’s estimate, at least 700 people are believed to have died at the hands of the Nazis in the camps.

Pantcheff found evidence of mass graves of the hundreds who were starved, beaten, tortured, or shot to death by the Nazis.

The Daily Mail published photos of some of the report’s pages showing the typed text, still clearly legible.

According to Pantcheff’s report, SS soldiers who were guarding the prisoners were rewarded with extra leave for “every five dead prisoners.”

He wrote that a “common cause” of death in 1943 was starvation “assisted by physical ill-treatment and overwork.”

Workers were beaten on all parts of their bodies and SS troops would try to earn the extra leave by “shooting prisoners for the smallest offenses.”

Pantcheff learned from prisoners that guards would throw a cigarette butt on the floor and then shoot anyone who tried to pick it up.

He wrote that one witness told him the walls of Norderney commander Karl Theiss’s office were repainted “three or four times to remove blood stains.”

Another claimed that 300 to 400 Jews were buried in mass graves on Longis Common on Alderney.

Only a few of the Germans who ran the camp were ever brought to justice, even though Pantcheff’s report provided a list of the names and crimes committed.

The original copy of the report became divided and its pages were spread out through various documents at the Russian National Archives.

According to the Daily Mail, a full copy of Pantcheff’s report, once held in Britain, was rumored to have been thrown away many years ago to make storage space.

Photo of Sylt Concentration Camp on the island of Alderney, after Nazi surrender, May 1945. (Courtesy of the Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum/ via Antiquity Publications)

There have been calls in the British parliament to locate the mass graves on Alderney.

In January, Conservative party MP Matthew Offord called on the government to release information about mass graves on the island.

In a debate following Holocaust Memorial Day, Offord told the Commons: “I’ve been advised that a considerable amount is already known of what lies beneath the ground,” according to the Daily Mail.

A year earlier Offord had pushed for excavating the graves to try to identify bodies, but in January said he had changed his mind as Jewish religious law discourages moving buried remains.

“Putting aside the religious issues, it has been stressed upon me that opening mass graves is not as revealing as one might imagine and the gains in knowledge are slight compared to the moral and spiritual costs of disturbance,” he said in January explaining his change in position.

There are only 397 known prisoner graves on the island.

In 2017 an investigative report by former top British army officers claimed that the casualty figure was probably much higher than 700 and was more likely 40,000-70,000. The report asserted that the true horror of the Nazi killings on the island was covered up by British military intelligence.

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