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.