HL Deb 02 June 1942 vol 123 cc68-9

My Lords, I beg to ask the first question standing in my name.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government when and under what circumstances a Palestinian Jew named Stein or Stern was killed while attempting to escape.]


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Cranborne has had to leave the House, and he has asked me to make the following statement on his behalf. Abraham Stern, to whom the noble Lord's question presumably refers, was the leader of a secret terrorist organization of Jewish extremists formed in Palestine about the middle of 1940. The Stern group included persons known to have been responsible for the murder of two British police inspectors in 1939, but against whom nothing could be proved, and others concerned in cases either of murder or robbery with violence who have subsequently been convicted. Soon after the group was formed, its members entered upon a campaign of organized terrorism, primarily with the object of obtaining funds for the furtherance of their so-called political programme, which was Fascist in character. In the furtherance of their objectives, they sought to enlist the help of Italy after Italy had entered the war. Steps were taken by the authorities to round up the gang, and the activities of these Jewish terrorists reached their climax in the cold-blooded murder at Tel Aviv in January last of three police officers and the wounding of four others. Vigorous action has since been taken by the police in rounding up members of the gang, and this resulted in the death, while attempting to escape, of Stern himself and of two other terrorists in February last, and in the detention of the principal members of the gang.


My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord realizes that the connotation of the words "killed while attempting to escape" is unfortunate. They have a very unfortunate background and, indeed, come from Germany. I hope that that sort of thing is not going to develop in Palestine.