Adolf Island (2019) Movie Script

Narrator: Over 70 years ago
The world discovered the horrors
of the nazi holocaust.
Today, forensic investigator
caroline sturdy colls
Is chasing clues to
a new and unsolved nazi case.
It's an untold story
of world war ii.
But her investigation isn't set
in hitler's occupied europe.
It's in a nazi
concentration camp
On british soil.
Caroline sturdy colls:
Not only is this a story
That's not been told,
But it's one that people have
deliberately tried to suppress.
Narrator: A case investigated
and left closed for 70 years.
But is the official story
the whole truth?
Or was this camp far deadlier
than anyone wants to admit?
Sturdy colls: This is possibly
the biggest murder case
On british soil
in the modern age.
I've come here because finally
I want to find out the truth.
Narrator: It's the story of how
This corner of churchill's
britain became...
Adolf island.
Caroline sturdy colls
is an expert
In uncovering nazi war crimes.
Her work at holocaust sites
across europe
Using non-invasive technology
Is revolutionizing the way
genocide is investigated.
She's discovered previously
unidentified mass graves
And the hidden gas chambers
at treblinka
The nazis tried to destroy.
Now she's investigating
the little-known story
Of a nazi camp on british soil,
On a small island just 60 miles
off the english coastline--
Like many of her cases,
This one begins at the
united states holocaust museum.
It has an archive of
over 250 million documents
Relating to all known
holocaust locations.
Caroline needs to discover
what the records reveal
About the holocaust
and alderney.
She's here to see
dr. Robert ehrenreich,
A director of academic studies
at the museum.
He and his team
are gathering evidence
That shows that the scale
of the holocaust
Is greater than
most people imagine.
Sturdy colls: So how many camps
were there in europe?
Robert ehrenreich: Well,
initially when we first started
Working on this encyclopedia
of camps and ghettos,
We thought there would only be
about 5,000 to 7,000 camps.
And a lot of these camps
that are on our walls
Were the ones that
were very well known,
That people knew about
from the very beginning.
But as we started
doing research,
We started to realize
how many more camps there were,
And now we're well over 40,000.
So all the small sites
were completely unknown.
Sturdy colls: Mm-hmm,
and I mean, to a certain extent
That we're still learning
so much more about those places.
Alderney, for example,
remains a mystery
In terms of what
we know about it.
And there are many, many sites
like that.
And so, for me, it seems like,
you know, a long road
To get to the point where
alderney would be recognized
Amongst these kinds of names.
Ehrenreich: Yes.
Sturdy colls: And that just
shows us how much
We've got to learn about
nazi persecution in europe.
Narrator: 40,000 killing sites.
It's a growing investigation,
But in the vast system
of records,
There's almost nothing
about alderney
To add to caroline's
search for evidence.
The story of nazi persecution
on british soil
Has never been fully told.
Now caroline must discover
the real scale of the camp,
How it worked,
and who its victims were.
Though they are british,
The channel islands
of jersey, guernsey,
And the smaller island
of alderney
Lie just eight miles
from France.
And in may 1940,
Hitler has almost all of europe
in his grip.
His next aim, the invasion
of mainland britain,
Is a daunting task.
But one part of britain
is vulnerable.
And on the 28th of June
The luftwaffe bomb jersey
and guernsey, targeting harbors,
Killing 44 civilians.
The surrender is a national
humiliation for britain.
Reporter: The life of the island
population proceeds orderly
Under the protection
of german weapons.
Narrator: Nazi propaganda
newsreels fully exploit images
Of british police working
for their new nazi superiors.
But what hitler's propaganda
machine doesn't show the world
Is the brutal side
of nazi occupation.
Hitler plans to turn the islands
Into a battleship
of concrete and steel
And use them to take command
of the english channel.
By June 1941, forced laborers
Working for a nazi construction
unit known as organization todt
Are transported to alderney
from camps in germany.
Eventually the labor force
rises to more than 4,000.
Their job is to make alderney
the first brick
In a monumental defense system:
The atlantic wall.
Sturdy colls: When hitler
issued the order
To fortify the channel islands
And make alderney
an impregnable fortress,
He ordered the construction
Of bunkers, tunnels,
Narrator: Organization todt's
forced laborers
Do almost all of that work.
Many are immigrants trapped
in germany, petty criminals,
And men the nazis consider
unfit for the german army.
They pour almost a million tons
of reinforced concrete
Into the channel islands.
Sturdy colls: On alderney today
you can see these structures,
When you read the history books
You read about the might
of german engineering.
But the construction
of these fortifications
Came at a huge cost, and that
was the cost of human lives.
Forced laborers from all over
europe were sent here;
Effectively they were slaves.
They were made to build
these structures,
They lived in terrible
conditions, confined to camps.
They were beaten,
they were tortured,
They were fed very little,
they had barely any clothing.
Narrator: A british prisoner,
19-year-old gordon prigent,
Is arrested on guernsey
and transported to alderney.
Working alongside
the forced laborers,
He witnesses the harsh realities
of being a nazi prisoner.
Gordon prigent: 12 o'clock,
Two or three prisoners
would come,
And they all lined up,
And you all had a ladle
full of hot water,
Cabbage leaf
and one slice of bread.
At 12:30, the whistle would go,
and you'd go back to your work.
Six o'clock,
you March back to the camp,
You queued up again, and you had
another ladle full of hot water.
In the nighttime, you suffered.
You had pains in the stomach.
You thought you were gonna die.
There were some of the chaps
died of starvation.
Narrator: Today,
the island of alderney
Still lives with the legacy
of nazi rule.
Huge concrete structures
scar the landscape.
The remains of gun batteries
and nazi watchtowers
Loom over the island.
These monuments of the nazi
occupation are plain to see,
But missing from the landscape
today is the network of camps
Built to house
the forced laborers--
Borkum, norderney and helgoland,
And the fourth and
most sinister camp, sylt.
Because records indicate
That sylt was built and run
by the ss,
The architects of the holocaust,
Little of the camp
is left today.
The ss order it razed,
Destroying any documents
and evidence of their crimes
Before escaping the island.
Sturdy colls: I know that there
are traces here of the camp,
So it's my primary objective
to find those traces,
Because finding those buildings,
finding those fence lines
Is all going to tell me
about the people who were here.
Narrator: Sylt was operated
by a notorious unit
Called the death's head.
This ss group runs
all the nazi concentration camps
From auschwitz to belsen.
In caroline's experience,
their presence alone
Points to what could be
a major nazi crime scene
Here on alderney.
Sturdy colls: I know about
ss concentration camps
From all over europe.
I know what went on
in these places,
I've read the testimonies of
the survivors from this place.
You know, I know what people
experienced here.
So looking around,
although at the moment
All we can see is vegetation,
Hidden beneath this
are the buildings
In which people lived, worked,
and in some cases,
The landscape
in which they died.
The ss camp above ground
Was constructed with wood
and was easy to destroy.
Beneath the surface
There's a maze of tunnels
and sinister rooms
Linking the ss compound
with the prisoner barracks.
[camera shutter clicks]
But their true purpose
remains a mystery.
Sturdy colls: I'm now
at the foot of the stairs
Which leads up the camp laundry,
And the small room
ahead of me here
Was also supposedly part
of that laundry complex.
What is really strange
about this space, however,
Is to the right of me
there is a tunnel,
And this tunnel led directly
To the house
of the camp commandant.
This seems totally strange.
Why would the commandant
of a concentration camp,
Who had actually built himself
a luxurious villa
With a great view,
Why would he want to gain access
through a clandestine route
Up to the prisoner area
of the camp?
And likewise, why would
he risk having prisoners
Being able to access
through this area as well
Down to his house?
Narrator: The ss became expert
At stealing the possessions of
prisoners sent to their camps.
Hundreds of millions of
reichsmarks were hidden away
In the ss coffers.
Sturdy colls: And there's been
a lot of speculation
About exactly why that might be.
Why on earth would
he have wanted access
Or risk prisoners going
in the opposite direction?
So what we're going to do
Is actually take
hundreds and hundreds
Of high-definition photographs
which we'll stitch together,
Then when we add to the data
that we have above the ground,
We're starting to build up
A much more detailed
picture of the camp.
And add that
to witness testimony,
We're hoping that maybe we can
finally find some answers
About what some of these spaces
were actually used for.
Narrator: Caroline is not
the first to look for evidence
Of nazi crimes here.
Eight days after hitler's death
And after five years
of occupation,
The german forces surrender
And the channel islands
are liberated.
Almost immediately
british intelligence
Sends a team to alderney
To investigate rumors
of war crimes.
Evidence from survivors
steers the investigators,
Led by captain
theodore pantcheff,
To an area of wasteland
called longis common.
Here, 336 prisoners
are discovered
Buried in an area the nazis
called the russian cemetery.
Those 336 dead are
the official death toll
From the camps on alderney.
But surviving prisoners claim
That this is not
the whole story.
Sturdy colls:
When british investigators
First come to alderney after
the liberation of the island,
What they find here is evidence
of terrible atrocities.
They start to take witness
testimonies from survivors
And from german
prisoners of war,
And they find evidence
of beatings, of hangings,
Of torture, and rumors
of mass graves on the island.
Narrator: Caroline believes
that there are unmarked graves
On longis common.
An aerial photograph taken
in 1943 identified a trench
That british investigators
suspected to be a mass grave,
But no official report was made.
How many people
really died on alderney?
And where are their graves?
Caroline has been investigating
this story for many years,
But this is her first chance to
actually excavate on the island.
They'll map
the ss camp's buildings
And try to locate
any unmarked graves--
Or so she thinks, because
not everyone on the island
Wants the secrets buried
by the ss revealed.
Sturdy colls:
So I've had an email
From the states of alderney,
Which is the local government
here on the island,
And many, many weeks ago
I got permission to work at sylt
From the private landowner.
The letter is a bombshell.
Caroline is banned from
excavating the ss camp at sylt.
Sturdy colls: What this email
essentially does,
It stops our investigation
And could in fact bring
the whole project to an end.
Narrator: June 1941.
Hitler orders the channel island
of alderney
Turned into a fortress
of concrete and steel.
4,000 forced laborers are
transported to the island.
Many die of starvation
and brutality.
336 bodies are found
in a nazi cemetery.
But forensic investigator
caroline sturdy colls
Is convinced
there are many more.
She's on the trail
of ss criminals
And the camp they built here,
But her investigation is blocked
by the alderney government.
Sturdy colls:
This investigation has been
The hardest of my career
In terms of really fighting
to get this story told.
Narrator: Then, a former member
of the alderney government
Makes contact.
Robert mcdowall recently
stepped down from office,
But curiously and unlike
the current council members,
He wants to talk.
Sturdy colls: So, robert,
I was very intrigued
To receive your email.
I know you were a member
of the states of alderney.
Robert mcdowall: Yes, a
delightful four-year experience.
Sturdy colls: Mm-hmm,
and I would like,
I really wanted
to meet with you
And talk to you
a little bit about that,
About the kind of, um,
the reactions on the island
To discussing
the occupation period,
Particularly the issue
of the camps
And the forced laborers
that were sent here
And what your experiences were
as a states member
In dealing with that
as an issue.
Mcdowall: Well, my experiences
were that the older people,
And I'll say
those over 60, 65,
Did not want to be
reminded of that period.
Although, in fact,
none of them were here,
None of them were here;
they have no...
No blame can attach to them.
I'd say there's no rationality,
I think, about the stance.
Sturdy colls: I mean, do you
think there's a political will
To remember what happened
during the occupation,
Or is it too hot a political
issue and that's why?
Mcdowall: People don't
want to go near it.
I think, long term,
They're making a rod
for their own backs,
Because the more and more
that comes out about this,
The more inquiries
there will be.
So this island
will not look very good
If it doesn't face up
to the facts,
Whatever they may
turn out to be,
As to what happened in the war
and at the end of the war.
Because the truth
will always come out,
And there'll just be more
and more pressure piled on them.
Narrator: But the local
government aren't convinced.
They're refusing to allow
any excavation on the island.
Caroline and her team leader
kevin colls need to regroup.
Sturdy colls: So, any ideas
About what we're actually
going to do now?
We need a technique
that's going to enable us
To map the large landscapes.
Kevin colls: Obviously the
application of aerial technology
Is something that we haven't
really considered before,
But I think we should,
Because there's a great deal
of evidence that you can gather
From drones which photograph
the sites from above.
There's also the application
of lidar,
Which is a laser technology
Which can be attached
to drones these days,
So it will pick up bits of
evidence that's on the ground,
Even if it's covered
by vegetation.
And I think that is gonna be
such an important technique.
I think we really need
to push quite hard
To get that up and running.
Narrator: To overcome
the restrictions,
Caroline calls in a special team
to survey the camp using drones.
But it will take a day
for them to arrive.
Today, little of the original
ss concentration camp
Known as sylt is visible.
The ss camp is on private land,
And the team can enter,
but under heavy restrictions
And the strict supervision
imposed by the local government.
Colls: Ok, so we arrived
at lager sylt.
We're going to spend the day
doing our investigation.
We are being monitored today
By martin from the states
of alderney works department.
Hi, martin.
So martin is going to monitor
the work that we do
To make sure that we adhere
to the rules
That we've been set
for our investigation this year.
So we're not going to be allowed
To do everything
that we wanted to do.
So we've already come up
with a number of solutions
To what we can do
to make this work.
We can investigate
some of the visible remains
That we've identified
in previous years,
To can record them
to document them,
And we can obviously
look around the site
For new pieces of evidence
that we haven't seen yet,
But we're not allowed
to move it.
So there's no
ground disturbance.
Objects are not to be picked up,
but they can be photographed.
And we have to stick to
these rules very carefully,
Because that's what we have been
told that we have to do.
Narrator: The team will record
the camp gates
And the few features
that do survive.
But the rest is hidden somewhere
beneath the dense vegetation.
The first clue to what sylt
might have looked like
Comes from a royal air force
reconnaissance photo.
The raf set out to photograph
the alderney airport,
But they also recorded a new
feature close to the runway.
From the air, it looks like
any other barracks.
In fact, it is the first glimpse
of the agents of the holocaust
In britain.
Sturdy colls:
Standing here for me now
Is a real mixture of feelings.
One is frustration because
what I really want to do
Is do the work
that we came here to do,
To do the investigation
And try and find the traces
at micro level.
But to be honest,
the predominant feeling
Is one of trying to imagine
what it must have been like
For the people who were here,
just how bleak it is.
Narrator: In 1943, 1,000
prisoners arrived at ss sylt
From the sachsenhausen
concentration camp in germany.
In their thin-striped uniforms,
They joined forced laborers
already on the island,
Working for
a nazi construction unit
Called organization todt.
But unlike
the organization todt workers,
The new prisoners at sylt
were under the control
Of the brutal and murderous ss.
Allied investigators entering
the concentration camps
At the end of the war
Immediately discover how the ss
used starvation as a weapon.
Sturdy colls:
As a forensic investigator,
I am always trying to find out
what happened here,
So when we are searching
this landscape,
When we're looking
for buildings,
We're not just looking
for structures;
We're looking for the places
where people experienced things
That ultimately often meant
the difference
Between life and death.
And this area here
was the camp kitchen,
And so this is
where food was stored,
And food was prepared.
Literally in this camp,
Food meant the difference
between life and death,
Because people were being forced
to work terribly long hours,
And for them,
getting enough nutrition
Was the only thing that
could help them survive,
And in many cases they were
simply unable to do that.
And the reason for that
was because
Essentially the ss guards
were stealing their food.
These were guards
who had adequate rations
All to themselves,
Yet they felt the need to steal
the food of the prisoners,
To sell it in the ss shop,
and then to make a profit.
Narrator: It became so bad
that maximilian list,
The camp commandant,
Was arrested and tried
by an ss court
For black marketeering.
Sturdy colls:
The prisoners were in
An absolutely
impossible situation.
Not only did this lack of food
make them hungry,
It made them weak.
It made them absolutely obsessed
with the idea of food.
And so that led many of them
To then have to roam
around the island
Trying to steal food, trying to
gather limpets from the beach,
And this was one of the crimes
that was the most punishable.
And so in just trying to do
one of the most basic things,
In trying to eat
in order to survive,
They were beaten, they were
tortured, they were shot.
Within a matter of weeks
many of those men were dead.
And those that weren't
were severely malnourished.
For many people,
their chances of survival ended
Almost immediately as soon as
they arrived here on alderney.
[seagull squawking]
Narrator: The next day, the
lidar team arrives on alderney.
Ben bishop: Good to be here.
Colls: Glad to see you, anyway.
Sturdy colls: We're definitely
glad to see you.
Bishop: We made it.
Colls: Also glad to see that
box of kit you've got there.
Bishop: I thought it was going
to go over at some point.
Sturdy colls: Oh, no.
Narrator: Until very recently
this lidar technology
Could only be mounted
onto an airplane.
But the latest
miniaturized versions
Can be carried
on powerful drones.
Sturdy colls: This data's
really got the potential
To scan a huge area, bigger than
we could ever cover ourselves,
And hopefully it's going
to identify buried structures
That are visible as subtle
depressions from the air,
So really excited
to get on with the work.
Narrator: The drone team
wastes little time
And heads straight to sylt
to set up.
Once in the air,
They record the site using
two different techniques:
Photogrammetry, which stitches
tens of thousands
Of aerial photos together;
And lidar, that uses lasers to
pierce through the undergrowth
And create a pinpoint-accurate
digital map of the camp.
The nazis destroyed sylt
and burned its documents,
But forensic investigators
believe that every crime
Leaves a trace.
Sturdy colls: So, ben,
I've got really high hopes
For this technology,
Firstly because we've used lidar
Elsewhere at other camps
in europe,
And it's been amazing in that
we've managed to identify
Unmarked graves
and camp structures.
But secondly, because I know
That this is absolutely
cutting-edge technology,
Particularly being
mounted onto a uav,
And there's hardly anybody else
doing this kind of work.
[drone humming]
For the next three hours,
The drones collect
billions of data samples.
By day's end, they have created
An unprecedented
inventory of images.
Up to now, all caroline
has seen of sylt
Is the raf reconnaissance photo.
With her dig blocked, she is now
pinning her hopes on the drones
To finally uncover the evidence
the ss tried to destroy.
Sturdy colls: All right, then,
guys, I'm really excited to see
What you've managed
to collect for us.
Bishop: Should we start
with photogrammetry?
Sturdy colls: Yeah.
Bishop: This is kind of
the first data set
That is produced.
Sturdy colls: So, already,
from looking at that,
And I mean, obviously
I've studied every inch
Of these aerial photographs,
So very quickly I can already
see things on there
That match up perfectly.
With this, we're seeing
this huge site.
This would take us, you know,
years and years and years
To kind of visualize that even
to a degree of that extent.
Narrator: The photogrammetry
measures and photographs
The entire site,
But it's the lidar, using
billions of laser pulses,
That will reveal
what's left of the camp.
Bishop: So I think
it's a good place to start
Would be with
the raw lidar data.
Colls: Ok.
Bishop: What you can see here
is the existing runway,
And then down here you can start
to see where the camp is.
Sturdy colls: Yeah, and already
those building foundations,
They're very visible there.
Colls: It's amazing, that.
Sturdy colls: Yeah.
With the vegetation removed,
You can see them really well.
Narrator: The evidence that
the nazis wanted buried forever
Is emerging.
Colls: No one has seen this
for decades,
So it's really truly amazing
that we've got these images.
Narrator: Using the lidar data,
Which creates a contoured map
of the area,
And the 1943 raf
reconnaissance photograph,
Caroline can finally
reconstruct sylt.
The only ss camp on british soil
is revealed.
The ss area guarded the entrance
to the prisoner compound,
With barracks, a canteen,
and the ss orderly room.
The prisoner compound
was surrounded
By a high barbed wire fence.
Four machine gun posts
covered the entire compound.
The prisoner quarters
had similar features
To other ss satellite camps.
The roll call area
was easy to survey.
Prisoner barracks were
Single story,
simple wooden buildings.
Prisoners are constantly watched
by their brutal ss guards.
When the gates closed,
there was no escape.
Sylt looks similar
to other ss camps in europe,
But could life as a prisoner
here be as desperate
As the infamous camps
in germany?
To find out,
caroline needs to dig deeper
Into the story of
the nazi concentration camps,
Starting with the place
where the evil system began.
Nazi prison camps begin
with the rounding up
Of hitler's opponents
in the early 1930s.
Almost 50,000 dissidents
are arrested and held
In temporary prisons
by nazi paramilitary groups.
As the number
of prisoners grows,
The ss seize control and
impose a new order of terror.
In 1933, dachau becomes
the first ss concentration camp.
Sturdy colls:
To understand how alderney fits
Into the bigger concentration
camp system built by the ss,
I need to come to dachau,
to where it all began,
Where the ss built the
very first concentration camp.
What would it have been like
For the prisoners
who were sent here?
Professor nikolas wachsmann
Has written a definitive history
Of the nazi concentration camps
and their victims.
Sturdy colls:
So I came to dachau
Because I wanted to understand
How the ss concentration camp
system evolved.
How did we end up in a situation
Where an ss camp was built
on british soil?
Nikolas wachsmann: It is
in dachau where the ss
In a sense invents
the nazi concentration camp.
It is here where
they first work out, really,
What a camp looks like
and how a camp should operate
And how prisoners
should be treated.
The concentration camps
Embody the spirit of nazism
Like no other institution
in the third reich.
Dissidents and outsiders
are removed from society
And forced to work.
Wachsmann: Take the first day
where prisoners arrive here.
This is a few weeks
after the nazis come to power,
And the regime starts to
round up political opponents,
Those who are deemed to be
enemies of the state,
And they basically
try to find spaces
Where they can take
these people,
And one of these sites
is here in dachau.
Narrator: In total,
the ss establish 27 main camps
And more than 1,000 satellite
camps across occupied europe.
2.3 million men,
women and children
Are dragged to these camps.
Over 1.7 million
lose their lives.
Sturdy colls: One of the reasons
I came to dachau
Was because I wanted
to understand
What daily life was like
for prisoners
In the ss concentration camp
Whether those who were
sent to alderney
Experienced different things
than those in other camps
in nazi-occupied europe.
Wachsmann: Well, some routines
in these ss camps
Are developed really early on.
The ss tried to control
every single moment
In a prisoner's life.
And that started
right in the morning
When prisoners were
forced out of bed.
They tried to throw
their clothes on,
Tried to grab some food
if they could,
But this was all done
at great speed,
Driven on by shouting corporals,
Other prisoners
in positions of power
Who were also beating prisoners.
After that, prisoners
would have marched to work,
Often outside the camp;
Exhausting labor,
Again accompanied
by brutality and violence;
And then exhausted
at the end of the day,
Fell back into their bunks
here in the barracks.
Sturdy colls: So when
the prisoners are deemed
To be expendable, when they've
served their usefulness
Or they're no longer fit to
work, what happens to them then?
Wachsmann: Well, sometimes
the ss kills them
In the camp itself.
There are certain barracks
which are sometimes reserved
For prisoners who are dying
or close to death.
And they're basically
left to starve
Or die of illnesses there.
What also happens
during the war,
In particular
in satellite camps,
Is that many of these prisoners
are then transported
Back to the main camps.
In the case of, you know,
a camp like alderney,
It wouldn't have been uncommon
for prisoners to be transported
Back to the main camp,
And then quite often
they are left to die there
Or are murdered in these camps.
Narrator: Alderney was
a satellite of neuengamme,
A vast camp near hamburg
in northern germany.
This is where caroline's
investigation takes her next.
Sturdy colls:
I know there were people
That were sent to alderney
about whom we have no records.
We don't know their fate,
whether they left the island,
Whether they remained there,
whether they were buried there.
And neuengamme was
the administrative center,
The main camp that governed
the subcamp on alderney.
Therefore, that is
where the records are.
I hope by going there I'm going
to finally be able to find out
What happened to the people
who were sent to the island,
To find out whether
they were buried there,
Whether they died there,
And just how many people
That ss concentration network
In 1938, the ss purchases
An abandoned brick factory
on the outskirts of neuengamme
And builds a model camp there.
Nazi victories in russia
expand the workforce.
Many are transported on
to camps like alderney.
Prisoners are routinely
beaten to death,
Drowned, hanged, shot,
or poisoned with gas.
It's estimated
that more than half
Of the men and women
taken to neuengamme
Are killed there.
In April 1945,
as the allies approach,
The ss guards stationed
in neuengamme
Are ordered to destroy
all traces of their crimes
And to burn their files.
A few brave prisoners manage
to hide several death registers.
Caroline is seeing many of these
documents for the first time.
Much of this evidence
can only be found here.
Caroline needs to mine
the hospital records,
The camp admissions,
the death registries.
They could provide clues to
the true death toll on alderney.
Sturdy colls:
So here in front of me
I have a report
that was written
By the camp commandant,
maximilian list,
In the early days
of sylt's operation
As an ss concentration camp.
In this report he mentions that
He sends back
a group of prisoners
Because they've become
so manic with tuberculosis
That when asked, some said
that they would rather die
Than to continue to work
on the island.
Narrator: The satellite camps
could return their dead
To the main camps for cremation,
But more often, the ss
transported sick prisoners
And executed them on arrival.
Sturdy colls: So I now need
to find the documentation
Here at neuengamme
in the hospital records,
The camp admission records,
The death registries
in some cases,
To find out whether
those prisoners
Really did have tuberculosis
Or whether they were simply
sent back here to be killed.
Narrator: The answers could lie
here, deep in the camp records.
Sturdy colls: So I've just
found a record here
In the prisoner database
at neuengamme
For a prisoner called
wladimir sajac,
And he was a russian prisoner.
Cause of death is actually
listed as having been shot
Whilst trying to escape.
I've already put his name
into the database
Of marked graves on alderney,
And his name does not appear.
Now, the reason that that
is incredibly significant
Is that he does not appear
on any of the registers
For the marked burials
on alderney.
So as far as I've been able
to discover so far,
He has no known grave.
Narrator: Caroline is finding
more and more names
Like wladimir sajac,
Evidence that points
to mass graves on alderney.
Sturdy colls:
The official history
Of the occupation of alderney
would have us believe
That people were sent to the
island and that they died there,
That they were buried
in an ordered cemetery,
That death certificates
were created for them.
However, the source material
that I'm coming across
Time and time again in archives
Is showing that there are people
who were sent to the island
Who died there
and who have no known grave.
And coming here to neuengamme,
seeing those death registers,
Finding out the names
of those people,
It's their graves on alderney
that I now need to find.
Narrator: For four years,
The nazis rule over
the channel islands.
The 1944 d-day landings
in France
Offer hope of liberation
for the people of europe.
But for the thousands
of prisoners held on alderney,
An allied invasion
is a death sentence.
Prigent: If you weren't
in this tunnel by two minutes,
You were shot on sight.
Narrator: 1944.
The allied push
across northern France
Cuts alderney off.
The fortress of concrete
and steel is becoming a trap.
But hitler insists there will be
no surrender for adolf island...
And no witnesses
to their crimes.
A chilling letter sent
to maximilian list,
The commandant
at the ss-run camp sylt,
Reveals a sinister plan.
Sturdy colls: "dear list,
you have been placed
As leader of ss baubrigade 1
on the island of alderney.
Do everything to train your men.
Should there be an attack
And the prisoners show
the slightest inclination
To make trouble,
shoot the guilty.
Should there still be unrest,
You have to shoot
all of the prisoners
Without a moment's hesitation."
This is a letter signed
by the leader of the ss,
Heinrich himmler.
This clearly shows
that the head of sylt,
Maximilian list,
had direct authority
From the head of the ss
to kill the prisoners
Should there be any sign
of unrest on the island.
If alderney is invaded,
The ss must have a means of
killing thousands of prisoners,
And quickly.
But how would they do it?
And where?
Sturdy colls: Looking
at witness testimonies,
What becomes apparent,
Particularly as
the war progresses,
Is that the nazis didn't want
to leave behind any witnesses
To what happened
here on alderney.
Narrator: Gordon prigent,
the 19-year-old british prisoner
Taken to alderney, experiences
the murderous ss plan.
Prigent: Each camp had its,
what we call tunnel of death,
And they'd seal
the back end of it,
Then the front end was open,
Then there was a machine gun
post at the entrance.
If there'd have been
any landings
By the americans
and the british,
There'd be alarm.
If you weren't in this tunnel
by two minutes,
You were shot on sight.
That's why it's been named
the tunnel of death.
The germans didn't want
any of us to be alive
If there'd have been
any landings on the island.
Narrator: By the time
the island is liberated in 1945,
The ss camp at sylt
has been destroyed.
The 336 graves
in the russian cemetery
Are the only hard evidence
of nazi murder on alderney.
An raf aerial image suggests
that the cemetery area
Might be more than it appears.
Sturdy colls: When british
investigators came to alderney
After liberation,
One of the areas that they
focused their attention on
Was here on longis common.
And that was because
there was a graveyard here
Where some of the forced
laborers who died on the island
Were reportedly buried.
Narrator: The bodies
in the cemetery
Were moved in the 1960s,
And the land was returned
to public use.
Sturdy colls:
So this area has been deemed
To have been cleared,
And very little
further attention
Has been paid to this location.
However, I believe,
from the testimonies
And the records that I've read,
That there is
a distinct possibility
That this was just
a show graveyard,
That in fact many of the bodies
of the forced laborers
Who died on the island
have not been found,
And there is
a distinct possibility
That some of them exist here
outside the cemetery boundary.
Narrator: In 1945, investigators
question otto taubert,
A driver who worked
for organization todt.
He describes seeing
emaciated bodies
Piled up close to the cemetery
And a coffin with
a sliding bottom,
Which raises suspicions
That it had been used
for multiple burials.
Despite continued opposition
from the alderney government,
Caroline is determined
to find the missing graves...
Not by digging, but by scanning.
Sturdy colls: What we're
not allowed to do here
Is excavate and disturb
the ground in any way.
So that's why our methods,
our non-invasive methods,
Are so important.
So you're capturing
the above ground,
And we're then looking
beneath the ground
the ground-penetrating radar
And documenting
what's going on there.
There's also on
the aerial photographs
Very, very clear disturbances
Around the periphery
of the cemetery.
Some of them look like
They could potentially be
mass graves.
Narrator: For the first time
in this investigation,
Caroline can combine
the highly effective lidar
With ground-penetrating
radar data,
Creating a 3d map
of the nazi cemetery,
Above and below the ground.
[drone humming]
This is a critical moment
in caroline's investigation.
She has never been this close to
discovering the missing bodies
That she believes
are hidden here.
But the closer she appears
to get to the truth,
The more hostile
the locals become.
Sturdy colls: So this is
an article that's just appeared
In the alderney press:
"dear editor, we seem
to be getting people
Who are continually
trying to change our history.
They want to encourage
all ghouls, weirdos
And anybody with twisted minds
to come to alderney
To see and worship
the wonderful nazi achievements
So that they can probe
with modern gear,
Excavate slave labor camps,
and fly their little spy planes.
Well, not if I can help it.
There will be no permission
given to access my property,
And if they fly their spy planes
in my air space,
The irritated states member
Won't be the only one
shooting them down."
I have never, in my entire
professional career,
Experienced anything like
I have experienced on alderney,
All because they want to forget
the memory of people
Who were brutalized and murdered
on this island.
There are no words
to describe how angry
And absolutely horrified I am
at the character of those people
Who can be so dismissive
of those people's experiences.
Narrator: With little time
left on the island,
Caroline has to plan
her next move.
If the data's positive,
She'll challenge
the alderney government
And make her case for
a future dig at the gravesites.
[email chime]
But a government email
delivers a final blow
To the investigation.
Colls: So what are they saying
we can actually do?
Sturdy colls: Essentially,
not a great deal.
Nothing more than tourists
could do, essentially.
We can walk around the sites.
We can take photographs,
but we can't fly the drone,
We can't use
any of our equipment,
We can't do any excavation.
Essentially we can't do
any archaeology,
With the exception
of observations
That we can make on the surface,
Because that's what
we're trained to do.
But we can't do the work
that we came here to do.
Colls: So if that's not
blocking research,
I don't know what is.
Sturdy colls: Yeah, well,
essentially everything
That we have asked to do
is now being prevented.
For me, all that's
being discussed here
Is the sensitivities now.
It's not being discussed that
what we're talking about here
Is people who came to alderney,
experienced terrible things,
And died here, and we don't know
what happened to many of them.
That's just seen
as too sensitive,
And because people don't
want to talk about it,
We're not allowed
to talk about it.
We're not allowed to survey.
But what about people
who survived
Who want this to happen?
What about the people who died
who can't speak for themselves?
Narrator: Local opposition
is building,
But the drones have
collected their data,
And the ground-penetrating radar
that identifies burial sites
Is complete.
If they push the archaeology
any further,
They could face arrest.
Sturdy colls: My time here
on alderney has come to an end,
And despite the difficulties
we've faced this week,
I am absolutely confident
that we've collected enough data
To move on with telling
alderney's story.
But in order to do that,
I need to go home,
I need to process the data,
And then I need to carry on
with my investigation.
Narrator: Nazi mass murder
on british soil,
Missing bodies,
and possible mass graves.
What caroline discovers next
could rewrite history.
Caroline sturdy colls
is a world leader
In the forensic investigation
of nazi crime scenes.
She's developed techniques
and technologies
To find unmarked burial sites
And to expose
the ss killing machine.
For many years,
caroline has been in search
Of a lost ss camp on alderney.
Witnesses and survivors claimed
that thousands died here,
But only 336 bodies were found.
At staffordshire university,
caroline is about to discover
Whether her suspicions
are right.
Does longis common
hide a chilling secret?
Sturdy colls: I've spent
quite a lot of time now
Going through the data,
And the results are,
quite honestly, incredible.
What I've managed
to come up with
Is a really, really
detailed picture
Of what the cemetery
on longis common
Looked like at the time,
and most importantly,
Demonstrate what survives
there today.
So firstly I'm looking
at the photogrammetry data,
Which clearly shows
the layout of the cemetery,
The known graves
and the boundaries.
And similarly,
the lidar data is showing me
The traces of those graves.
What is really remarkable,
Is when I overlay
the aerial photograph,
I can see three areas
that are really of interest.
The first is on the eastern side
of the cemetery
Within the boundary itself,
And this area, very clearly
there are individual graves,
But there are also
what appears to be
A larger area of disturbance
That could be
a potential mass grave.
The next area is to the north.
Again, a large area
of disturbance
And also to the west.
As I move into my
ground-penetrating radar data,
This enables me to map
in more detail,
To go to a greater depth,
And again in all three
of those key areas
Where the aerial photographs
That there was disturbance,
I can see that same disturbance
In my geophysical survey
Narrator: Similar data has led
caroline to the discovery
Of mass graves in
the treblinka death camp.
Sturdy colls: Well, essentially
what that means is
I've identified features here
That have the characteristics
of unmarked burials.
Narrator: Caroline's team
has uncovered a new crime scene.
The data results
within the nazi cemetery
Confirm the presence
of the mass grave
Witnesses reported in 1945
But that was never investigated,
And now two new and unexcavated
burial sites
That increase the original
known nazi cemetery
By more than a half.
The lidar and ground-penetrating
radar has identified
What could be a hidden landscape
of mass graves.
This evidence is the first step
Towards confirming the claims
by survivors
That more than a thousand people
Had been murdered
and were buried on alderney.
Sturdy colls:
For the first time in 70 years
It's been possible to prove
That there are
unmarked mass graves
And individual burial sites
on alderney
That have never been documented.
This shows new evidence
of nazi crimes,
And it demonstrates how little
we actually have known
Up to this point
About what happened on alderney
during the occupation.
Narrator: With new evidence,
Caroline heads back
to washington, dc.
Her investigation into
what happened on alderney
Means that the victims
of the crimes
Perpetrated by the nazis there
Could finally have a place in
the narrative of the holocaust.
We know about auschwitz,
We know about bergen-belsen,
we know about the big camps
And the ones that
everybody thinks of,
The ones that have become iconic
in terms of the holocaust.
So it's important for us
to find out more
About these small camps.
And one of the things
that we really try to do here
Is bring back
people's identities,
Humanize them,
that they're not just numbers,
But that they're actual people
who had lives.
And so it's also very important
for a site like alderney
To know where the people
came from,
Who they were,
what happened to them,
Not just to memorialize them,
but also for their families.
After more than 70 years,
This crime,
committed by the nazis,
Made secret by the british,
is finally being revealed.
Sturdy colls: This investigation
about what happened on alderney
Has been incredibly difficult.
However, we've identified
new burial sites,
We've understood more about
the architecture of the camps,
And crucially, we've found out
more about the people
Who were sent to the island who
couldn't speak for themselves.
So, in that sense, I think this
has been a huge success,
And I really hope that
this is just going to lead
To more and more research
So we can continue to find out
what happened on adolf island.