entire duration of the war, the only part of the United
Kingdom that fell to the Nazis was the [English] Channel
Islands ("Norman Islands" to the German occupiers) off the
coast of France -- Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Herm, Jethou,
and Sark. In January 1942 the Nazi occupiers built two
concentration camps on Alderney -- Sylt and Norderney.
expelled nearly all of Alderney's resident population. In
1943 more than eight hundred French Jews, many married to
Gentiles, were transported to the island as slave laborers.
One survivor recalled their torment: "We arrived at night
and disembarked. In the darkness we were forced to run the
two kilometers to Camp Norderney, while the German guards
continuously stabbed into our backs with their bayonets
whilst also kicking us all the time. There were many men
among us over seventy years of age, but nobody was spared.
Work, hard physical work for twelve and fourteen hours a
day, every day, building the fortifications. Every day there
were beatings and people's bones were broken, their arms or
their legs. People died from overwork. We were starved and
worked to death, so many died from total exhaustion." The
French Jews were ordered back to the European mainland in
May 1944, destined for the Neuengamme concentration camp.
Belgian resistance fighters intercepted their transport,
blew up the railway line, freed the captives, and
protected them at Dixmuide until liberation.
Henri Bloch's 1943 or 1944 letter to his wife at Paris is
one of only twelve recorded prisoner covers from Camp
Norderney, sent via Cherbourg, censored at Paris, canceled
Paris Centralisateur. The surtax on the 1.50-franc +
50-centime semi-postal stamp supported Secours National
(national relief). The origin and purpose of the EO/TR
machine mark at the lower left is unknown.