Academics refute claims of undisclosed war documents

ACADEMICS have poured cold water on theories that revelations about the German Occupation of the Channel Islands remain concealed in the UK’s National Archives.

The site of the former Lager Sylt in Alderney, the only concentration camp on British soil.
The site of the former Lager Sylt in Alderney, the only concentration camp on British soil.

Interest in undisclosed documents has been fuelled by questions asked in Parliament by Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, chairman of the Channel Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group, but Dr Gilly Carr of Cambridge University said that she believed that all the files were already available.

‘To the best of my knowledge, all of the files are open although there is one case of a file that was lost in transit many years ago which we are trying to trace. There are also redactions within some files, where lines are blacked out, where it relates to either living people or medical details of living people.

‘In 2016, after four years of my own personal campaign, files from the mid-1960s relating to compensation of British victims of Nazi persecution were released to the National Archives.

‘Where a person would be under 100 years old today, or where the testimony in the file was written by the children of the victims of Nazism (who would be under 100 years old), the text is unavailable,’ she said.

Dr Carr added that she believed that all the files from Channel Islanders were available and that she had, in any case, made copies which were also available on the Frank Falla Archive website (frankfallaarchive.com).

‘As the contents of all National Archives files, open or closed, are listed on their searchable online catalogue, anyone who identifies any further closed files are able to contact me and I will personally follow this up,’ she said.

In May this year some media reports referred to information contained in the Pantcheff report – a document produced by Theodore Pantcheff, a British intelligence officer, in June 1945 ­– claiming that it remained classified by the British government under the 100-year rule that protects sensitive documents. However, Lord Eric Pickles, the UK’s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, has since pointed out that the report was declassified in 1993.

And although some authors have asserted that no copy of Pantcheff’s report existed in the National Archives at Kew, Professor Caroline Sturdy Colls of Stafford University has described how she found one while researching in the National Archives 12 years ago. Previously, a copy had been discovered in Russian archives by Madeleine Bunting, author of the controversial book The Model Occupation. In a paper entitled The ‘Lost’ Pantcheff Report, Professor Sturdy Colls writes:

‘Despite the fact that the Pantcheff report is well-known by researchers who have focused on Alderney’s occupation history, in recent weeks a number of media reports have claimed that the secrets in this report can be revealed “for the first time”. They have also claimed that the files are still not available in the National Archives, stating that the “Pantcheff report” remains classified by the British government under the 100-year rule.

‘However, this is simply not the case. Researchers have long used the Moscow files to describe the events that took place on Alderney. Likewise, although the report and its accompanying documents did remain classified for some time after World War II, it has now been available for more than a decade in two archives on British soil and has been widely cited,’ she writes.

Meanwhile, Foreign Office Minister Wendy Morton has confirmed that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has no plans to discuss the declassification of documents relating to the Occupation with the German government, and that it holds no undisclosed records on the subject itself.

‘All identified documents are held at the National Archives and are therefore accessible to the public, subject to any legal exemptions,’ she said in a response to Mr Rosindell.

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