HC Deb 08 July 1941 vol 373 cc33-4
67. Captain Strickland

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether a record is being kept of the names of Nazis, Fascists and their allies responsible for deeds of cruelty and oppression committed against defenceless men, women and children in conquered territories, contrary to the established custom and recognised practice of warfare, with a view to future proceedings as and when possible?

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Butler)

No, Sir. It is difficult to obtain information in present circumstances as to the responsibilities of particular individuals. No doubt such information may in due course become available to His Majesty's Government or to the Allied Governments concerned, but it would be premature to make any statement as to the use to which they may eventually desire to put it.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is such a record being prepared, for example, in Abyssinia, and do the Government recognise that it is desirable that there should be a record of individual criminals during the war?

Mr. Butler

I should require notice about a particular case of that sort.

Captain Strickland

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the deterrent effect which such a statement might have with regard to these deeds of cruelty, which are shocking the civilised world, and ought not a record to be kept so that after the war it could be sorted out and a decision taken whether prosecutions should follow?

Mr. Butler

It is very difficult to obtain information about the actual responsibility of private individuals.

Mr. Nod-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries about Abyssinia and see whether it can be done there as a test case?

Mr. Butler

Certainly, Sir.

Mr. Thorne

Are the Government keep a record of one individual who was responsible for the murder of something like 33,000 people in Rotterdam last year?

Mr. Butler

That is recorded in the pages of world history.

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