MP urges UK to release files on Channel Island mass graves at concentration camp

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MP urges UK to release files on Channel Island mass graves at concentration camp

Hendon's Matthew Offord calls on the government to reveal 'embargoed files which detail what they found at the cemeteries after the war and their own excavations'

Alderney camps memorial plaque
Alderney camps memorial plaque

The Government should release historical documents about a mass grave at a former concentration camp on one of the Channel Islands, a Conservative MP said.

During the Second World War, on German-occupied Alderney, Lager Sylt and Lager Norderney were Nazi camps housing Russian and Polish prisoners of war as well as Jewish slave labourers.

In a Commons debate following Holocaust Memorial Day, Matthew Offord (Hendon) said: “I’ve been advised that a considerable amount is already known of what lies beneath the ground.

“This is because the British Government is still sitting on embargoed files which detail what they found at the cemeteries after the war and their own excavations of the cemetery.

“So today I am calling on the Government to find the missing records of the 1961 exhumation and the detailed records that the UK made of each set of remains by the British excavation at Alderney.

“We have a duty to ensure that no-one is left behind and I ask the Government to play its part and do the right thing by releasing all information and documents in its possession.”

In a debate to mark Holocaust Memorial Day last year, Mr Offord advocated excavating the graves to identify the bodies.

However, he said he has now changed his mind as Jewish law forbids the transfer of remains from one grave to another, even if it is to a more respected site.

He told the Commons: “I expressed my personal view that unmarked graves, mass graves and locations of bodies hidden by their murderers are not proper graves in themselves and I believe that it is appropriate for the identification of bodies to be undertaken.

Matthew Offord .(Photo credit: Jacob King/PA Wire)

“Some people took my words as advocating the full exhumation of the Channel Islands but that is not necessary or even desirable.”

He added: “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.

“Knowledge already exists about the sites and the combination of non-intrusive means of investigation, World War Two aerial imagery combined with research into records should be sufficient to tell us with some certitude what lies beneath Longis Common.”

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