Oral Answers to Questions — United Nations War Crimes Commission

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th January 1945.

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Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon 12:00 am, 17th January 1945

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the policy and work of the United Nations War Crimes Commission and, in particular, on the reasons for the resignation of Sir Cecil Hurst.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

The United Nations War Crimes Commission was established in October, 1943. With the exception of the U.S.S.R. all the European Allies together with the Governments of Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India, China and the United States are represented on it. The purpose of the Commission is to investigate all cases referred to it by any of the Allied Governments of atrocities committed by, or by order of, the nationals of any of the countries at war with any of the United Nations against nationals of the United Nations; to record and assess all available evidence upon such atrocities, and particularly on atrocities organised and committed in accordance with deliberate policy; and to report to the Governments of the United Nations cases in which the Commission is satisfied that an atrocity has been committed, naming, where possible, those wham they consider responsible.

The Commission has recently presented its first lists to the Governments represented on it. Since its establishment it has also produced a number of recommendations which have been forwarded to His Majesty's Government and the other Governments represented on the Commission. In some cases action has already been taken with a view to giving effect to these recommendations, but in general they relate to action which would have to be taken jointly by the military authorities of the Allies, and their consideration has therefore involved full consultation with the Government of the United States in the first instance. The recommendations put forward by the Commission include proposals as to method of trial of war criminals, which was dealt with in the Declaration on German atrocities published at Moscow on November 1st, 1943. The members of the Commission have recently been informed of the steps which have been taken, so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, in regard to the more important recommendations which they have made. His Majesty's Government are anxious to facilitate in every possible way the work of the Commission, the importance and value of which they fully recognise.

As regards the latter part of the question, Sir C. Hurst resigned for medical reasons and on his doctor's orders. As has already been announced, his place has now been taken by Lord Finlay.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the more important recommendations of the Commission, to which he referred, have been accepted by His Majesty's Government, apart from the question of consultation with the other Allied nations; and also whether there has been, in fact, as has been frequently stated, a fundamental difference of opinion on certain matters between the Commission and His Majesty's Government?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

As regards the first part of that supplementary question, as I say, some of the recommendations have been accepted, and some require consultation with Allies. The answer to the last part of the Question, is "No, Sir." I think there is a good deal of misunderstanding which I hope my answer will help to clear up.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

When the right hon. Gentleman said in a speech, or a statement, the other day that our treatment of Hitler and his accomplices after the war would be political, rather than judicial treatment under the war criminals regulations or decisions, what did he mean by that exactly? Is any attempt being made to whitewash Hitler and company?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

There is another Question on the Paper on this subject.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

With regard to those recommendations which require consultation between the Allies, have His Majesty's Government expressed any view for or against to the Commission?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

We have consulted our Allies, and we have told our Allies what we thought.