HC Deb 25 November 1920 vol 135 cc635-6
38. Sir J. BUTCHER

asked the Prime Minister when the first and second interim reports from the committee of inquiry into the breaches of the laws of war will be published, dealing, amongst other things, with the crimes committed by the Germans during the late War on land, on sea, and in the air in violation of the laws of war and of humanity?

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Gordon Hewart)

I am asked to reply to this question. No decision as to the publication of the reports referred to has been taken, nor will be taken, until the trials at Leipzig have been concluded.


Before a decision is taken, will my right hon. and learned Friend remember the vast amount of care and attention which was devoted by the committee to investigate the evidence, and to get the names of these German criminals?


Yes, Sir, I am well aware of that.

39. Sir J. BUTCHER

asked the Prime Minister when the trials of German war criminals at Leipzig will commence, and what has been the cause of the delay; whether the first cases to be tried are cases of alleged glaring and outstanding violations of the laws of war and humanity; and how many of these alleged criminals are in the custody of the British Government and the German Government respectively?


I am asked to reply to this question. It is not yet possible to state when the trials will commence. The documents containing the charges and the evidence are in the hands of the Attorney-General of the High Court at Leipzig; and I understand that the materials are being investigated in accord- ance with the procedure of that Court. Some time was necessarily taken in securing the proofs of witnesses scattered over a wide area. I have no reason, at present, to impute delay. The first cases are of the type suggested in the question. None of the accused is in the custody of the British Government.


Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give the House an assurance that these trials will not be dropped like the trial of the arch-criminal the ex-Kaiser?


Can the Prime Minister give an assurance that these German trials will be proceeded with, and if they are not gone on with at Leipzig, will he take steps so that these men shall be brought to trial in this country?


Has the right hon. Gentleman had a recent opportunity of reading a verbatim report of his election address, and, if not, may I send him a copy, which I have in my possession?


I have something else to do. In reply to my hon. and learned Friend, I took special steps in the matter at Spa, and I am convinced from the attitude of the German Government itself, and its replies there, that they mean to proceed with these trials. Until I am convinced that they are not going to carry out the undertaking which they gave— and we were all impressed with the determination of a particular Minister —I would not like to say what steps we will take.


Will the Prime Minister arrange to have all these officers, including the ex-Kaiser, tried by court-martial in Dublin?