HL Deb 16 June 1915 vol 19 cc61-3

LORD CHARNWOOD rose to ask His Majesty's Government whether they would procure the translation of the Report of Viscount Bryce's Committee on German atrocities into the principal languages of Europe, and of sonic Asiatic countries.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I should like to be allowed to say a word as to my object in putting this Question, because, of course, nothing could be more futile or distasteful to ourselves while the war is at its height than that we should relieve our feelings in any mere words in regard to the conduct of our enemies. But this war, however long it lasts, cannot be quite the final stage in what is nothing less than a conflict between two civilisations—the peculiar civilisation represented by modern Germany, and that other civilisation of which at any rate the rough idea is common, one might almost say, to all the other nations of the earth; and in that connection the grisly State Paper to which my Question refers is, and may for a long while remain, a very significant document.

I do not suggest that His Majesty's Government should undertake the task of distributing this or ally other literature in foreign countries. I am not sure that the hawking about of literature quite falls within the sphere of effective Government action. But if this Report were available in a number of different languages, I am confident that a demand for it would arise from time to time among people who read and think in a number of parts of this Empire and in a number of foreign nations, some, perhaps, of which we did not at first think. The initial task, however, of procuring translations of this Report into many foreign languages is one which at the present time would, think, be quite beyond the powers of anybody but the Government itself. If the Government should give at all a favourable response to my request—I am not now going to say one word as to the particular languages into which I think the Report might well be translated—I would only make two suggestions. First, that whatever translations have been or may be made should be kept in type for a considerable while in view of possible future demands; and, secondly, that the Government should lend a favourable ear to any suggestions that may be privately made from time to time as to further languages into which it might with advantage be translated.


My Lords, so far as regards one part of my noble friend's Question, there has already been action in the sense that he desires. Steps have already been taken by His Majesty's Government to translate this Paper into all the principal European languages, and I will see that the suggestion which my noble friend has made as to the retention of the various translations in type for a considerable time receives the notice of those who are responsible. As regards the languages of Asia, or any of them, that matter was also carefully considered, but at present I do not think that there would be an advantage in translating this Paper into any of the Asiatic languages. My noble friend may have some reasons to adduce to the contrary. That falls within the second suggestion which he made. If he has any reasons to suppose that it would be desirable to translate this document into any particular language, of course we shall be glad to hear and to consider them carefully. But as at present advised I am disposed to limit the translations to the very large number of European languages into which it has already been arranged that the Paper should be rendered.