Day 11: 15 April 2014: The Joy of Concrete

Today we acquired more evidence which will enable me to be able to answer the crucial question of what survives archaeologically, after 70 years, of a forced labour camp that was in existence for just under two and a half years and comprised mainly wooden barrack huts which were removed after the end of the war. Most people would assume that the answer is ‘nothing at all!’, which of course is why so few of these camps are still visible or have enough structures present to be turned into heritage sites.

Today we have been finding more iron nails, small slabs of concrete, brick with concrete attached, and some aspestos. I think that this is building debris from the labour camp. The broken nature of these objects speaks to me not just of how the German occupiers dismantled the camp to cover their tracks, but how this process of breaking up all traces (or nearly all traces) was completed by islanders after the war who wanted to leave no ‘taint’ of the ‘mark of the beast’, as they put it, on their soil after the Occupation.

While this debris was soon covered by brambles, ivy and bracken, and the leaf litter gradually became compost and then soil, natural processes completed what the Germans started and the islanders contributed to. The camps became ‘lost in the landscape’, which is the name of my project on Lager Wick. And while pieces of concrete may not be ‘beautiful artefacts’, they constitute proof of the practice of forced labour during the German Occupation of WWII.Image

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , ,

About Gilly Carr

I am a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education. I work in the field of conflict archaeology and POW archaeology, and my fieldwork is based in the Channel Islands.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: