HC Deb 21 February 1916 vol 80 cc398-9

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the reasons for which Major Priestley and Captain Vidal, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, are still detained in Germany in violation of Article 12 of the Geneva Convention of 1906?


On 2nd July the United States Ambassador stated that Captain (now Major) Priestley could not be allowed to return to this country, as he had to face a Military Court of Inquiry. On 20th August the Ambassador informed us that Captain Priestley was to be repatriated, and on 1st September that both officers were to be detained from the present for military reasons, but that the German Government promised their early repatriation. From a further note of 3rd September it appeared that Captain Priestley's continued detention was not connected with the earlier charges against him, as that matter was settled.

The two officers did not, however, return to this country as expected, and they are still detained in Germany.

We can only explain the failure of the German Government to carry out the Geneva Convention and their own promises by the supposition that the treatment of Major Priestley and Captain Vidal in Germany has been such, and the state of affairs in the Wittenberg Camp particularly during the typhus epidemic, so bad that the German Government consider it undesirable to afford them the opportunity of reporting on these matters to His Majesty's Government.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any official Reports from the United States Ambassador at Berlin as to the conditions obtaining at the camp at Wittenberg since the Reports communicated by the United States Ambassador in London on the 6th and 9th December last and published in the Press?


I have received no official Reports with regard to this camp since the ones referred to which show that a substantial improvement has happily taken place. I regret to say, however, that statements made by returned prisoners fully corroborate the reports that until a comparatively recent date the conditions at this camp were deplorable, and the treatment of the prisoners interned there scandalous.