HC Deb 22 January 1941 vol 368 cc153-5
3. Sir William Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can now give the House any information with regard to the recent arrest of some 4,000 British subjects in Paris, and their despatch for internment to unknown destinations?

Mr. Eden

As the reply is inevitably long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

On 5th December, 1940, and the following five days a large number of British women of all ages and of men of over 65 were arrested by the German authorities in Paris and were sent to the Caserne Vauban at Besançon (Doubs), France, for internment. In the course of the operation some of them were detained for a few days at other places, but all had reached their final place of internment at Besançon by the middle of December. During the process of arrest and internment the United States Embassy at Paris kept in touch with the German authorities by personal visits and by telephone, and did everything possible to relieve the hardships involved in this sudden and widespread measure of internment. Doctors, German Red Cross nurses and special food for mothers and children were despatched to Besançon by the German authorities, and though sleeping facilities for the first few days were not sufficient satisfactorily to accommodate the large number of new arrivals, by 15th December everything had been organised and each internee had a bed. Arrangements to receive the sick and feeble have been made in the hospital at Besançon, where 300 beds are available for the internees, and there is a small infirmary in the Caserne Vauban. In addition to the German Red Cross nurses, there is a large number of English nurses and nursing nuns amongst the internees. The Caserne is heated, and health conditions are good. The internees receive the regular ration allowed to the French population, in addition to which they are able to purchase food at the canteen.

Mothers with children under 16 years of age, and women over 60 years of age are to be released, unless there are special reasons for their detention. Released internees will not be allowed to return to their homes but will he required to select new residences in the Eastern part of France. There are approximately 3,000 men, women and children at Caserne Vauban. 685 men under 65 years of age, who had hitherto not been interned at St. Denis, have now been interned at Drancy near Le Bourget, on the outskirts of Paris. The United States Embassy at Paris are now engaged on the work of compiling lists of the names of all those who have recently been interned and of those who are being released on various grounds, and have undertaken to forward them to London as soon as possible. When these lists are received, all relatives in this country or elsewhere in His Majesty's Dominions, whose whereabouts are known, will be informed.