HC Deb 04 October 1944 vol 403 cc906-7
4. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will ask the Governments of the United Nations to make a declaration that as soon as practicable every effort will be made to obtain the names of those responsible for crimes against German democrats and anti-Nazis, such as the recent murder of 7,000 internees in Buchenwald concentration camp; and that those names will be added to the list of war criminals and tried by an appropriate court.

Mr. Eden

Crimes committed by Germans against Germans, however reprehensible, are in a different category from war crimes and cannot be dealt with under the same procedure. His Majesty's Government have this matter under consideration, but I am not in a position to make any further statement at present.

Mr. Strauss

Does not the Foreign Secretary agree that the murder in cold blood of anti-Nazi Germans in Germany, is just as criminal as the murder of anti-Nazis of other nationalities elsewhere? At the present stage of the war, would it not be salutary to issue a warning that such crimes will be punished with equal ruthlessness?

Mr. Eden

I was not trying to measure the degree of the reprehensible in any of these deeds; all I was saying was that it was not a war crime in the sense of other crimes that are being committed, and other means would have to be found for dealing with it.

Mr. Price

Would the Secretary of State bear in mind that any action he may take in this respect will have a big effect on the possibility of getting a decent Government in Germany after the war?

Miss Rathbone

Might it not have an effect on the danger of further crimes, such as Buchenwald, if it is made perfectly clear now, that under whatever procedure, criminals will not escape punishment?

Mr. Austin Hopkinson

Can anything be a crime if it is not a breach of some existing law?

Mr. Silverman

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that all these matters are equally offensive against the human conscience, and on exactly the same grounds? Would it not, therefore, be very much better to widen the terms of reference of the War Crimes Commission so that all these matters could be dealt with by exactly the same procedure?

Mr. Eden

No, Sir. We really have given some thought to this. I cannot agree with my hon. Friend about widening the work of the War Crimes Commission; they have a very definite and circumscribed task. I agree, however, about the offensiveness of these crimes; all I say is, that they must be handled in some other way.

Mr. G. Strauss

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.

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