Monday, 5 August 2013

Useful Notes for Broken Homes III

The Island of Silence

Aldernay is a small island off the coast of France which became attached to the British crown at the same time William of Normandy did. In the 13th century it remained attached, along with the other channel islands, when Normandy was Incorporated into the Kingdom of France.

From that point on the island's economy was principally driven by the building of fortifications, by the English and later the British against the French, then by the Germans against the British and, since 1945, the rich against the tax man.

With the rest of the Channel Islands Aldernay was occupied by the Germans after the fall of France in 1940. The Germans set up four concentration camps on the Island housing Russian and Polish POWs, Jewish slaves and forced labourers from occupied Europe. It was while working their prisoners to death that the Organisation Todt and the SS pioneered the brutalist(1) style of modern architecture. A style that became much admired by post war modernist architects who went onto inflict it upon the people of Europe in the 1950s and 60s.

(1) The beauty of brutalism is that the building bears no external relationship with its function so whether it is a theatre, a housing estate or a gun emplacement is almost impossible to determine frrom the outside.

3 comments:

katmax said...

That building looks like a cylon sitting on top of that hill.

hotfoot-jackson said...

My first recognition of Alderney was as one of the Wombles. From Elizabeth Beresford's books mark you, not the current TV remake.

Think my favourite Channel Island arhaeological site is La Houghue Bie on Jersey, Neolithic burial mound, Medieval chapel-cum-christian theme park and Nazi lookout post and command bunker all in one.

Martha R. Mahard said...

I know consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, and I suppose hobgoblins have their place in Peter Grant's world but what is your editor doing? Before we are even out of the first chapter you kill a guy named Alan Frust driving a Vauxhall Corsa in a crash with another guy named Robert Weil driving a Volvo V70. Then on page 7 you refer to "our dead Volvo driver" - and I'm still not sure whether he is dead or not or if it matters. Now I'm well stuck into the middle of the book (I LOVE the series so don't get me wrong) and on page 158 Nightingale asks about Zachary Taylor who has turned back into Zach Palmer by page 160! This kind of makes me crazy and interrupts the flow - are you doing this on purpose? Anyway, consistent or not do keep them coming, and also, by the way I also love the actor who reads them on the audio versions - he is fantastic! Thank you.