HC Deb 20 February 1945 vol 408 cc609-11
5. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can make a statement about the recent clashes that have taken place in prisoner-of-war camps between Nazis and anti-Nazis; and whether he will segregate the Nazis as far as possible and provide the anti-Nazis with facilities to study democratic principles and institutions.

8. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for War if he can make a statement on the disturbances last month in the prisoners-of-war camp at Canning Town, where a number of non-Nazi German and Austrian prisoners, transferred from another camp at which they had been doing clerical duties, were beaten up by Nazis, with the result that one of them died in hospital.

10. Mr. Hynd

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the recent organised assaults, trials and secret hangings of anti-Nazi German war prisoners by Nazis in prisoners-of-war camps in this country; and what steps are being taken to prevent further similar outrages.

22. Mr. Edgar Granville

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the practice of forming storm troops by Nazi prisoners of war in camps in this country who frequently intimidate other German prisoners; and whether he will take steps for disciplinary measures against this.

Sir J. Grigg

There has recently been one clash between Nazi and other German prisoners at a camp in Canning Town. Some of the latter had to be treated by the camp doctor, but none died or were admitted to hospital. At another camp there has been one case of violence which resulted in the death of a prisoner. At four other camps there have been isolated instances of assault by Nazis on non-Nazis. Adequate powers to deal with such cases are contained in the Regulations for the Maintenance of Discipline among Prisoners of War and detected culprits are, in fact, dealt with under these regulations. Considerable progress has been made in the last months in segregating ardent Nazis from the rest but as I pointed out to the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) on 17th October the shortage of accommodation slows up the carrying out of this policy considerably.

Mr. Strauss

Is it not possible to put the Nazis into a separate compartment in any internment camp? Surely there would be no difficulty in separating these elements. Will the Minister be good enough to answer the latter part of my Question—which he has not done—with reference to providing anti-Nazis with facilities for studying democratic principles and institutions?

Sir J. Grigg

Perhaps the hon. Member will put that down as a separate question for the Foreign Office; it is not a matter for me.

Mr. Hynd

Does not the segregation of these anti-Nazis involve the question of lack of accommodation and is it not rather a question of providing facilities for anti-Nazi prisoners to come into direct contact with the English commanders of the camps, instead of leaving them entirely to the Nazi officers and N.C.O.'s in charge? In view of the implications in this question, will the Minister be prepared to meet a small deputation of Members who are interested in this matter?

Sir J. Grigg

I think the election of a camp leader is a matter for the prisoners themselves. That is my recollection, speaking from memory, and, therefore, the only final and absolutely satisfactory solution is segregation. If the hon. Member will give me a list of the points he would wish to raise—it is no good dis- cussing the matter in vacuo—I would be very glad to consider receiving a deputation.

Commander Locker-Lampson

Can the Minister say whether, in the case of the man who has been murdered, the murderer has been tried?

Sir J. Grigg

That matter is under investigation.

Miss Rathbone

Do not the various unfortunate incidents which have occurred indicate that there may be a considerable amount of persecution going on which falls short of actual violence, and that the precautions taken at present are not sufficient to avert even violence?

Sir J. Grigg

As I said just now, I do not think any solution, short of an absolute segregation process, which is going on, can prevent, altogether, incidents of this kind. The moral to be drawn from it, apart from the question of getting on with segregation as quickly as we can, is that there is a serious problem left for the post-war world in the eradication of this kind of mentality.

Mr. Astor

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the system of allowing the Nazi majority among these prisoners to elect their leader is very unfair to the anti-Nazi minority? Would not it be far better to choose a leader from among the non-Nazis?

Sir J. Grigg

That would, I think, mean a complete departure from the practice in all prisoner-of-war camps whether in this country or abroad. I think the only satisfactory solution of the problem is segregation which is going on as quickly as we can possibly carry it out.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Are we to understand, at long last, that there are anti-Nazis among the Germans, and if that is so will the right hon. Gentleman convey the information to the Prime Minister?

Sir J. Grigg

I do not know on what the hon. Member bases that discovery. I have heard innumerable references from this side of the House to non-Nazi prisoners.

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