THE son of a slave worker who spent months enduring brutal conditions in a concentration camp in Alderney has welcomed an official inquiry into Nazi atrocities in the island during the Second World War.
Gary Font, who organises the annual memorial service at Westmount – to honour thousands who were enslaved or forced to work in the Channel Islands during the Occupation – said he hoped the UK government’s review could provide more information about the camps and those who died in them.
The scope of the review will be revealed later this year by Lord Pickles, the UK’s Special Envoy on post-Holocaust issues.
Mr Font’s father, Spanish Republican forced worker Francisco Font, spent nine months as a slave worker in the Lager Norderney concentration camp in Alderney – before being moved back to Jersey shortly after D-Day.
During the Occupation, the Nazis established four camps in Alderney – two concentration camps: Lager Norderney and Lager Sylt, and two labour camps: Lager Borkum and Lager Helgoland.
‘He was sent there [to Norderney] after being beaten by two Organisation Todt guards in Jersey,’ Mr Font explained.
‘The days were long, they were hard and he was subject to malnutrition.’
Mr Font added that his father witnessed the execution of a young Soviet boy during his time in the camp.
‘He [the young worker] had stepped out of line to change the cement bags on his feet… an SS guard walked up to him and shot him.’
Mr Font said he welcomed the inquiry and hoped that further details about the sites – and those buried there – could form part of discussions about a potential memorial.
‘An inquiry is always a good thing even though many years have passed.
‘I hope it is not too long before those buried in Alderney are given a fitting memorial,’ he added.
Anyone who has relevant information or verifiable evidence will be able to submit to the inquiry and details on how to do so will be available soon.
The president of the States of Alderney, William Tate, said: ‘We welcome this announcement from Lord Pickles to appoint a panel of experts who are gathering all the evidence, including from those on our island who witnessed the atrocities first hand or from their descendants who hold records, and they will decide whether it is possible to say how many died.
‘Above all, this will bring clarity and put an end to the arguments about numbers when, as an island, our priority is to show our respect for those who suffered and died here, however many there were.’