§ 6.57 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ELIBANK also had the following Notice on the Paper: To draw the attention of His Majesty's Government to the case of two Austrians named Kunz and Hausser, who were holding office as diplomatic secretaries in the Austrian Legation in London at the time of the subjugation of Austria by Germany in 434 March, 1938, but who immediately transferred their allegiance and services to Nazi Germany and became diplomatic secretaries in the Nazi German Embassy in London for one and a-half years until war broke out in September, 1939; to ask His Majesty's Government whether they are aware that notwithstanding this record, one of them, Kunz, has been at liberty in this country ever since war began, whilst the other, Hausser, who was interned, may shortly be released, and whether in the circumstances described His Majesty's Government will give instructions that these two persons shall be interned for the duration of the war; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I deliberately put down this second Motion separately in order that I might receive a separate reply. It refers to two Austrians named Kunz and Hausser, who were holding diplomatic office in the Austrian Legation at the time of the subjugation of Austria by Germany in March, 1938, but who immediately transferred their allegiance and services to Nazi Germany and became diplomatic secretaries in the German Embassy in London for a year and a-half until war broke out. Notwithstanding this record, one of them, Kunz, has been at liberty in this country ever since war began, whilst the other, Hausser, who was interned has, I am informed, already been released. I really do not know how the Government or the Home Office can hope to receive the confidence of the country in this question of enemy aliens and their conduct during the war if they are going to act in this way with regard to two individuals of this kind. These two men, when they joined the German Embassy in March, 1938, must have professed Nazism, and living as they did for nearly a year and a-half in the German Embassy——
From March, 1938, to August, 1939, which is nearly a year and a half. Living as they did in the German Embassy and surrounded by Nazis, they would not have been allowed to stay unless they had professed Nazism as well. It is common knowledge—we hear these things in London at the luncheon or dinner table or as one goes about; one learns the opinions of people like that.
If the noble Lord will allow me to make my speech he will have an opportunity to reply. Their views became known, and it is common knowledge that both these men, Kunz and Hausser, professed strong Nazism right up to the period when the war broke out. They decided, I suppose, that it was better for them to remain here rather than go back to Germany. One of them is married to an English woman, the other is married to a Frenchwoman. I do not propose to deal with that side of the matter at all, but I do suggest that 999 people out of every 1,000 in this country feel, as all those to whom I have mentioned this matter feel, that these two persons should be interned for the rest of the war. Unless that is done it is unfair to intern other people who have not shown by their actions the same Nazi sympathies as these two men have done. I beg to move.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, before the noble Duke answers I should like to say a word with regard to one of the individuals mentioned. I know nothing about Herr Hausser, but I am acquainted with Mr. Kunz, who has been serving in what used to be the Austrian Legation for a good many years, and perhaps it will be a surprise to my noble friend to hear that there is no one in this House or anywhere else who detests the Nazi regime more than Mr. Kunz does. What my noble friend has alleged about Mr. Kunz serving the Nazi Government and having adopted Nazi principles and the Nazi creed is quite erroneous. What happened was this. When Austria was seized by the Germans naturally all Austrians became German citizens. Somebody was required to wind up the affairs of the Austrian Legation in London. Mr. Kunz undertook this work, and when his work, which was extremely distasteful although he was working on behalf of his own countrymen and not for Nazi principles at all, came to an end he left. My noble friend is entirely mistaken in alleging that he remained there as a Nazi agent until the outbreak of war.
§ LORD NEWTON
I understand he left about Christmas, but I will not guarantee it. Anyhow it was long before the war broke out. In order to corroborate what I said I will ask the noble Duke, who is to answer the question, whether he has made any inquiries at the Foreign Office with regard to this gentleman. I know nothing at all about Herr Hausser, but I am perfectly certain that if the noble Viscount had consulted anybody in the Foreign Office, and I presume the people responsible for this action have consulted them, he would have been told exactly the same as I was about this particular man Kunz. I cannot help thinking that when a crisis arises—I say it with no disrespect to my noble friend—people in this country lose their heads. In the late war, I remember well enough, when we were more or less in the same position as now, there was the same outcry: "Put every alien behind barbed wire." All I can say, as far as I am concerned, is that I should not myself feel any safer if I heard that every German female servant was behind barbed wire. In former days I had something to do with this question myself, and my experience was that the really dangerous aliens were not the natives of the country with which we were fighting but the neutrals, and worse than them were our own countrymen.
What I would suggest to my noble friend is that he should confine his activities to the matters raised in his earlier question with which I am in complete sympathy. Personally I see absolutely no sense in imprisoning wholesale every alien that you can get hold of. Both my noble friend and the noble Lord behind him disclaimed any intention of interning everybody, but their views could not be carried out without interning everybody, and I wonder very much where they would all be put. He suggested that refugees should be disposed of by sending them to America. That is an admirable solution from our point of view, but can you conceive the Americans or anyone else agreeing to receive hundreds of thousands of refugees merely because we ask them to do so? I would invite my noble friend to concentrate on the points raised in his earlier question. He is urging that we should intern people who are suspected and who may possibly be hostile in sentiment to us. But why not deal with the people we know to be hostile to us? 437 Why do not we deal with our own traitors? Why do not we deal with the proprietors of the Daily Worker? Why do not we intern Sir Oswald Mosley? And why do not we intern all the people who are doing their best to defeat our present efforts? That is the point on which. I think we might very well concentrate. We may well ignore the cases of harmless aliens like that of the man I have mentioned who is alluded to in the question.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, my noble friend will appreciate that the internment of enemy aliens in time of war is carried out in exercise of the Royal Prerogative, and it is obviously not in the public interest to state publicly the reasons for the exercise or the non-exercise of these powers in relation to particular individuals. I can assure my noble friend, however, that the Home Secretary has very full information at his disposal in regard to the two Austrians to whom he refers, and their cases have been given adequate consideration from time to time in view of the information available at the moment. I can inform him that Adolph Kunz has been recently interned. Edmund Hausser was interned on January 15 on the recommendation of an aliens tribunal, aid his case was later referred by the Home Secretary to the Aliens Advisory Committee which is presided over by Mr. Norman Birkett. The Home Secretary, after considering the Report of the Advisory Committee, decided to authorise his release. The noble Lord will appreciate that any decisions of this character made by the Home Secretary are subject to reconsideration in view of any new information which may become available to the authorities.
May I interrupt the noble Duke to ask who the other members of the Committee over which Mr. Norman Birkett presided were? It is rather important to know.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
I am afraid I will have to let the noble Lord know about that later. He will appreciate that these decisions are subject to 438 review, and his observations made to-day—and this applies to his other Motion—will be brought to the attention of the Home Secretary who will give them his most careful consideration.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.