Nazi crimes: the history of the executions on the island of Alderney will be presented at the exhibition
A dark page in the history of the tiny British island will be shown in a reproduction of the site of a Nazi execution, created by an artist whose work explores the impact of destruction and violence.
Secunda Pier has taken a cast of a bullet-damaged wall, part of a Victorian fort on Alderney, one of the Channel Islands, which will be on display in London next month. Secunda will talk about the wall’s history and forensic evidence from American experts, which supports his conclusion that it was the site of executions carried out by German soldiers occupying the Channel Islands during World War II, reports The Guardian .
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His work will be the latest in a series of works documenting in art form the impact of the conflict, a topic that Secunda has been dealing with since 2001, when the Taliban blew up the rock-cut statues of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in the sixth century.
The existence of the wall in Alderney was told to the artist by a friend who lives on the island. “I’ve seen enough bullet holes in places like Afghanistan and Iraq to recognize clear patterns like invasion, defense, target shooting and executions,” Secunda said.
He sought expert advice from two world-renowned ballistics experts at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. They visited Alderney last summer and concluded earlier this month that the fort was almost certainly an execution site.
The Channel Islands were occupied by German troops from 1940 until the end of the war. Guernsey and Jersey had large civilian populations, but 1,400 Alderneys had been evacuated just a few weeks earlier.
The evacuation was traumatic. “People were told to kill their livestock and pets, pack one suitcase.” They had no idea when they would return, or if they would return at all.
In October 1941, Hitler announced his intention to turn the islands into an “impregnable fortress” to prevent the Allied invasion of Europe. Thousands of prisoners were brought to Alderney to build hundreds of concrete fortifications and labor camps, including two concentration camps run by the SS.
Among those sent to the island were Russian, Polish and Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilian, French Jews, as well as German and Spanish political prisoners. More than 6,000 people of 27 nationalities are believed to have been forced to live and work in harsh conditions.