HL Deb 07 December 1943 vol 130 cc109-41

LORD VANSITTART rose to ask His Majesty's Government, whether they have taken, or intend to take, any steps to ensure that no German criminal shall find asylum in any neutral country; to inquire what steps are being taken by them to identify war criminals already in their power or within their reach; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Motion has been several times postponed for a variety of reasons, and now it has been partly, but only partly, overtaken by the Moscow Conference. At that Conference the leading Powers pledged themselves—and I use their own words—"to pursue the war criminals to the uttermost ends of the earth." It would be ungenerous not to include neutral countries in so warm and wide a definition. My concern is rather lest some of us might wax faint yet pursuing. So I have maintained by Motion, not because I wish to ask His Majesty's Government any embarrassing questions, but because I have some observations to make on points not clearly covered as yet, and also because, quite frankly, I hope it will emerge from these discussions that there are many of us who feel not only with, but as, victims. I will only add that, although I have pointed my Motion at Germany as being the most immediate and important of the problems, everything I say, or intend to say, will apply, in truth, not only to Germany but to all Axis Powers and their satellites.

Now we have understood from the Press that His Majesty's Government addressed a polite intimation to neutral countries that they should not harbour war criminals and that they received in reply a guarded answer. Well, I understand that; that is the old game of face saving, and I hope that now the intimation, the broader and more specific intimation, received from Moscow will be sufficient. If, however, not face saving but what I might call face lifting were envisaged, if the worn-out features of neutrality were to be dolled up afresh after the fighting was over, I think it would be well to point out now that the right of asylum was designed to cover the victims of political persecution, not wholesale massacreurs and sadists. At the same time, it is only fair to say that when men were formulating their notions of International Law, it was supposed that these species did not exist. A week or two ago, Alexis Tolstoy called the Germans "beasts from another planet," and it does not lie with anyone in this relatively immune island to contradict him. On the contrary, it should be our concern to prevent this planet from being wrecked by them. Three days ago, Soviet War News came out with a heading "Even Passports from Another Planet Won't Save Them," and that, I think, reflects the general expectation. Neutrality, therefore, will never be accepted as a shield for the enemies of mankind.

For a great part of my life I have been concerned with the working of International Law, but I should certainly be puzzled to define neutrality to-day. Some of us thought that it was dead in the days of the League, but here it is, still alive, although I hope not kicking, and during this war it has taken on some very odd forms, which have worked out in practice to our detriment as un-neutrality. Into those forms I do not propose to go to-day; I shall confine myself to saying that during the past year I have addressed a number of mass meetings up and down this country on various aspects of foreign affairs, and on this matter of the war criminals I have found a growing resolution that we will not again be bilked, as we were after the last war, by any action or subterfuge of Germany or of any other Power.

There is very good ground for this "unanimosity" (if I may temporarily add to our vocabulary), and it is this. After the last war, hordes of German military thugs and hooligans were allowed to survive, and with official and Governmental connivance and incitement—with the connivance and incitement of such Socialists as Noske, and such sham Liberals as Stresemann—they very quickly put an end to any hopes first of a better Germany and then of a better world. I cannot too often emphasize the fact that this generation is the product not only of National Socialism but of Weimar—the Two-and-Three-Quarter Reich, as an old German friend of mine has wittily called it. I think that there is in this country a growing realization that the war criminals, however great their number or however small their stature, cannot be allowed to remain alive and at liberty, and there is a growing determination to see to it that they do not. That being so, there are really only two points to discuss—the number of war criminals and how to get them. Those two points are closely linked.

Up to about a year ago, I found a general impression that the list of the wanted would be limited. That theory was never tenable, for the reasons of future security which I have outlined, and now it has been completely rebutted by the Moscow Conference, which has made it plain that we shall all be wanting not only the guilty German officers but the guilty German men. It will be apparent that to the future of Europe it is equally important to liquidate and to root out the war criminals of all categories, without class disinction. We cannot afford to be regardless of persons, even when the principle works in reverse. In other words, we have to apply the lesson which we failed to apply after the last war, which is that we shall not establish sanity in Germany without a considerable measure of sanitation. The number of these war criminals is legion, the more so as our Russian Allies have also made it clear that the receipt of orders will not necessarily be regarded as cover. That again is only common sense, for otherwise almost no one would be punished, and justice and security would alike be defeated. Moreover, this decision is in strict conformity with the German military code.

I have a few amplifications to make. Nearly a year ago I pointed out that it would be necessary, for reasons not only of justice and security but of bare humanity, to liquidate the entire Gestapo and all the Death's Head Guards at the concentration camps. There may be exceptions here and there, but, broadly speaking, all those men are not only guilty but atrociously guilty, and we ourselves shall be war criminals if we allow them to remain alive and at liberty. In my list of the damned I also included at that time all those guilty of mass slaughter by the systematic starvation of conquered nations. At the time I received no reply, but I should be profoundly grateful for one to-day. I think, however, that for the sake of civilization we shall have to go a little further, and to include amongst the guilty not only those who in occupied territories have actually perpetrated massacre, incendiarism, rape and torture, but also those on the home front—and the record of the German home front is an abominable one—who have been guilty of brutalities to prisoners and slaves. Above all, we must take account of those involved in the unspeakable horrors of enforced prostitution.

I think that most of your Lordships will either have read or have read of last week's publication by the Inter-Allied Information Committee of German and Japanese cruelties to women. If so, there will have remained in your minds a passage which runs thus: The most monstrous of all the crimes committed by Germans on Polish women is that of the wholesale seizure of Polish women and young girls to be sent to brothels for the German soldiery. After the last war we forgot that category of Hun, but I take it for granted that we shall not do so again. I think it is our duty to demand the lives of every German man and every German woman who has had not only a hand but a finger in that foul business.

It may perhaps clear our minds about the minimum scope of retribution if I select at random some recent utterances by Russian writers and broadcasters, although I should add that everything that they say in this respect applies equally to the whole of Europe. I do this partly because I think that it is important that our political thinking in this matter should be in line with that of the Continent. Here, for example, is Professor Burdenko, who says: The Germans have exterminated prisoners of war. They have done this by two methods: by direct killing and by bringing about death by starvation and by work beyond the prisoners' strength.

I can confirm that. I have had some conversations with some of our own returned prisoners of war, and the figure which they have heard in Germany of the number of Russians thus slowly done to death is 2,000,000. That confirmed the figure that I have heard from other well-informed sources. I have only to add that during the last war—and on this I speak with knowledge—the Germans did the same thing in the same way, and on the same scale. Well, that also was overlooked once. I should doubt whether it could be overlooked twice. "Though the mills of God grind slowly, they grind exceeding small." And it will be apparent, I think, that it takes more than a clique to minder 2,000,000 men.

Here again is Vassily Grossmann, the correspondent of the Red Star, who says: We are confronted by the organized murder of millions of children, women, old men, war prisoners and wounded. That also is perfectly true. The European figure for people thus destroyed is now approaching 20,000,000. Your Lordships will remember that in Kharkov in one winter alone over 100,000 people were compelled to die—if I may use an expression which covers all categories—and that the population of Kiev has been reduced from 850,000 to 300,000. It takes scores of thousands to rub out 20,000,000. Here is Mr. Manuilski, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, who says: The Soviet people and the Red Army hold the whole German Army responsible for their criminal acts. I can only say that the Soviet people and the Red Army are dead right.

But it must be remembered that the German Army numbered (I put it in the past tense) at least 10,000,000; it numbers less now. Well, nobody, I presume, contemplates the punishment of the whole German Army, but I would put this point to your Lordships, that it will be one of the most important conditions of peace in the future that there shall be no more German uniforms, for all German uniforms have been disgraced for ever. In any case, the words of Mr. Manuilski rule out the possibility of any narrow and ineffective retribution, for he goes on to state the whole of my case thus: Retribution is a measure of hygiene directed towards the removal of socially dangerous elements who imperil the normal rules of social existence. Exactly; and that is just the principle that we neglected last time. Had I not too great a respect for your Lordships' time I would take you step by step through the consequences of that neglect. Finally, to sum up for all Europe, here is M. Politis. Your Lordships will remember that he was for some years Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, and that he has recently escaped into Egypt after two years of hell at German hands. On November 5 he gave an interview to the correspondent of the Daily Telegraph which was an exceedingly short one. Here it is: I asked M. Politis: 'Are the Germans one and all utterly inhumane?' He answered: 'Without exception. Only the degree varies.' Again, I say it is not for anyone living in this relatively comfortable island to contradict him.

That, then, is the measure of our problem, and I think it will be apparent that what I have quoted makes it clear that there can be no question of the list being a small one. Indeed, if the Allied Powers mean what they have said—and I do not doubt for a minute that they do—the list is bound to be an extensive one. It is bound to run into scores of thousands, and if that is so I think that the sooner that fact is faced and courageously proclaimed the better, because the deterrent will be the better, and therefore it will be the better for the surviving victims. In this appallingly grave matter I hope that we shall not be haunted and paralysed by any fear of stimulating the Germans to fight. I think it would be impertinent for any of us to pretend to know them better than Bismarck, who saw and said long ago that the German weakness lay in lack of moral courage. When his knees begin to knock and the sweat to break out on his brow, he will fight worse, and not better. And so would anyone. I think, however, it would be better if we did not preoccupy ourselves too much with reactions in Germany on this matter. Surely we have now reached a pass where we ought to think only and all the time of the victims. If we wish a remnant of them to survive we should all be thinking and talking as Tolstoy, Burdenko, Grossmann, Manuilski and Politis have done. And I would earnestly beg all those who may be tempted to think or write differently —I forbear to name and criticize them to-day—first to learn by heart and then lay to heart, the words of Ilya Ehrenburg, who writes: We who have seen— and between those who have seen and those who have not seen there lies a world waterlogged with tears— We who have seen will not forget anything. He goes on: Those who would talk of forgetting should be classed not as humanitarians but as hypocrites.

One further point. Nearly a year ago in this House I said: The Germans will go on murdering and laying waste, according to plan, until they reach the confines of their own country, and then, according to plan, they will surrender, and then, according to plan, they will win the peace with German territory intact and all around in ruin. That foreboding still holds, because no damage caused by our aerial bombardments can even approximate to the wholesale devastation wrought by the Germans in all the territories that they are driven to evacuate. When I propounded that view I also suggested some remedies for countering that policy, and I may be permitted to regret that they were not adopted, for that was exactly what all our Allies feared, and in the intervening period that policy has gone ahead by giant strides. It is rampaging in Russia, and in Poland and in Italy the Jews have been virtually exterminated. We are told that Paris has been mined and we may soon witness a second sack of Rome. Indeed, that policy has gone so far that other voices have been raised in later alarm. Thus on November 5 The Times wrote: Even if they lose the war the Germans mean to win it in Poland by murder. That is only the translation of a policy long formulated, for your Lordships will find in Dr. Rauschning's conversations with Hitler in 1933 and 1934 the following passage. Hitler said: We are obliged to depopulate … I mean the removal of entire racial units. And that is what I intend to carry out.

I think that some thought of that must have been in the minds of the Allies at Moscow when they issued that warning to those Germans who had not yet steeped themselves in innocent blood. But that warning, standing alone, will not be sufficient. No warning is ever of any avail with a German unless you show him at the same time that you mean business, and know how to do it. When the final crash comes all the criminals, great and small, just as at the end of the last war, will be ready to take refuge in hiding or disguise, or to seek flight in a snowstorm of false papers, and there is only one way of stopping that. Close the frontiers. I take it for granted that that will be one of the first conditions imposed on Germany after unconditional surrender, but of course that also, standing by itself, will be of no avail unless neutral countries are either persuaded or, if necessary, compelled to close their frontiers too. I hope it will be sufficient to remind them of the words of Mr. Sumner Welles in his book, The World of the Four Freedoms. He writes: The shibboleth of classic neutrality in its narrow sense can no longer be the ideal of any freedom-loving people. There can no longer be any real neutrality as between the powers of evil and the forces that are struggling to preserve the rights and independence of free peoples. That is well said. But here also we need to show that we are in earnest. There must be no further abuse of neutrality, and that is why I am speaking to-day because it may be necessary not only to close the frontiers, but to keep them closed for a long time while Inter-Allied Commissions of Identification are going through the country and doing their work with the help of the necessary witnesses. That will be a long process. It will take at least a year, possibly longer, and in any case these Commissions must not be hurried.

There are countless examples of enforced spectators of mass executions, of mass burnings alive, and mass buryings alive. I myself know of instances where men have been put before a firing squad and only half shot, then being buried shouting "We are not dead, we are not dead" until their mouths were stopped with dust. That is quite a common proceeding, it is a very usual practice. I could quote many examples, but take only one, again from Ilya Ehrenburg: At Piryatin the mound over the grave of 1,600 people moved. I do not quote that as a horror, but because it is a case where witnesses are available. Again it is within the know ledge of many of us that in Italy and elsewhere, because German soldiers were crossed in rape, the inhabitants of whole villages were mown down and mutilated. That is not unusual; it is an ordinary event in the ordinary life of the ordinary German soldier. I do not quote it as a horror, but because, as I say, there are witnesses, and unless these witnesses have full time and opportunity we shall in practice identify no more than one per cent. of the real criminals. Therefore I venture to press these measures to the best of my ability on the Government, because without them the world will again be fooled. The only result will be that the great bulk of the war criminals will become once more, as after the last war, German national heroes and national examples for the next war.

The Germans are the most ghastly fact in history—let it be said without heat. Not only in the field but at home, in camp, farm, factory, and brothel they have committed cruelties hitherto undreamed by man. It is the old story, the logical climax of a people whose soul has not been civilized. I feel sure that the declaration of Teheran conceals no delusion as to the slow and painful process by which alone that stage can be reached. Everything that I have said to-day is indissolubly linked with the problem of German re-education. It will be impossible, utterly impossible, to re-educate this generation—the next generation perhaps; I hope so, I believe so; but not even the next unless the wild beasts of these preceding generations are smitten by justice sufficiently severe and far-reaching. They are the products of all that is worst in what, if memory serves, Coleridge called "German nimiety." I take pleasure in reviving that old word because it is more graceful and easier to pronounce than "too-muchness," which is what it means. Nimiety bulges in German arrogance, it is apparent in German appetite, it sometimes peeps out even in the use and misuse of the language. The German vice or device has never been "Too little and too late" but always "Too much and too often." This nimiety, this too-muchness, is at its height in German crime, and I should like to warn your Lordships that the only chance of starting or restarting a new world, including a new Germany, is by making an end at long last, and in the light of past experience, of the criminals. The future, my Lords, will soon be in your hands, and it will turn at least in part on this very question. I beg to move for Papers.


My Lords, I am sure nobody has listened to the very eloquent speech we have just heard without the greatest sympathy, without a full appreciation of the horrors which the Germans have committed in the course of this war, and without a strong hope that all those who are responsible for these horrors shall be in some way punished, if not by death, at least by penalties of the most grave order. At the same time, with the greatest respect to my noble friend, I propose to put before your Lordships some considerations which to some extent at least should persuade your Lordships to take a somewhat different course from that which my noble friend has put before the House. Of course the moral of his speech is that all German men should be destroyed.


I beg pardon. I never said anything of the kind.


I say that is the moral of the noble Lord's speech. The noble Lord may not be aware that that is the logical consequence of a determination to destroy the people who have committed these abominable atrocities. The Motion which the noble Lord has put before your Lordships refers to His Majesty's Government taking "steps to ensure that no German criminal shall find asylum in any neutral country," and my noble friend pointed out very clearly the sort of punishment which he thinks alone is suitable for these people when you have prevented them from passing the frontiers of Germany into some neutral land. "German criminals" is a phrase which is open to many different meanings, but the noble Lord has shown that he does not mean to let off anybody who has acted under the orders of his superior officer or under any superior orders, whether from an officer of the State or anyone else. They must all be punished.

Apparently, these criminals are to include all the people, as the noble Lord himself has shown, who have committed some breach of The Hague regulations which, as we know, the Germans started breaking on the first day of war, when they sank a ship of a private nature with women and children on board, and are continuing up to the present moment doing that same thing. Who is going to get off? Who is going to get out of the phrase "German criminals"? Those who have been concerned in carrying out these mass executions, those who have been concerned in turning out of Poland and other countries hundreds of thousands of innocent people, those who have assisted in the horrors of mass deportation for purposes of prostitution, those who have committed crimes in concentration camps and so forth—I will not go through the whole list, but who among German men is to escape from that horrible stigma of "German criminal"? I go the whole length—I really cannot see why my noble friend can object to it—of thinking that if not the whole of the men of Germany certainly a very large proportion of them are included in this phrase. They should be punished. I agree. Then you ought to consider who ought to punish them.

The notorious failure after the last war to punish a few criminals only ought to have taught us something. But the point I am on is this, that as I understand my noble friend he wishes the punishment to be effected to a large extent by British tribunals. Let it be so. We have therefore to stop all these people from going abroad if we can, or get them back from the neutral countries and then set to work to try this very large number of horrible creatures, getting evidence so far as we can of the crimes which they have committed. That I understand is the idea. It is not from kindness of heart for these people that I am suggesting to your Lordships that the noble Lord goes too far. For my part I respectfully object to this country and its Judges, or persons appointed to be Judges in this country, being engaged in a sort of lifelong trial ending with the deaths, if evidence can be secured, of these hundreds of thousands of men. It will do no good to this country and it will do no good to the people engaged in this judicial execution to embark on that course. It is because I am too fond of this country, not because I like Germany, that I object to anything of the kind. What I conceive is possible is to pick out a smaller number, a reasonable number of criminals, to collect them, and to try them with the utmost rigour of the law. I would observe this. We know that at present, as the noble Lord said, the Moscow Conference resulted in certain things being decided. The noble Lord referred to the very guarded answer of the neutral Powers who were asked to agree to hand over the criminals when they reached their countries. Well, it was so guarded an answer that the conclusion I gathered from it was that they would act in the same way as Holland did after the last war and say that these people had rights of asylum which their countries have long respected.

It is here, I think, that it becomes so important to limit the number of criminals whom we propose to try and, if possible, to convict. I think it may be represented to all the neutral Powers that we are not seeking to get from their land, or to prevent them from giving asylum to, a vast number of soldiers and others who have been employed by the Germans in this terrible war. I suggest that we should limit ourselves to acts so horrible that they are contrary to all the instincts of humanity. I should limit it to those people and should ask the neutral Powers, or get the proper people to put before them, the question: "When you started by giving immunity to political prisoners did it ever enter your Head that you were also going to give immunity to murderers of tens of thousands or at any rate large numbers of human beings contrary to the laws of war, or to those who used their powers, as occupiers of a country which they were able to invade, to deport, as they did in the last war, great numbers of women for the purposes of prostitution?" I cannot help thinking that the answer would be that, if you limit your claim to people of that kind—people who, as I have said, are not worthy of the name of human beings—it would no longer be maintained that the right of asylum ought to be given to such people.

Speaking for myself, though this is of course a matter upon which opinions would differ, I doubt very much whether it would be wise, or whether in the long run it would be thought to be just, to try a common soldier for obeying the order of his military officer to fire. It is quite true that if he had been told to fire on, we will say, a hostage (which is one of the horrors they have committed) he could not say that that could be justified in a court of International Law. It is a murder and he is being told to commit a murder. Nevertheless, it is contrary to my idea of human nature to expect a soldier, who himself would be shot unless he complies with his order, to stand up and say, "I would sooner die than do what you have told me to do." That, I think, would be contrary to my ideas of justice, and I do not think it would be wise to punish people of that sort.

My belief is that it would be a great mistake for this country to attempt to try legions of criminals. My noble friend has been fortunate enough never to have had to try a case. He has been fortunate enough never to have had to deal with questions of fact where there are two or three different languages involved, the languages of the criminal and those of a couple of witnesses and others. I can tell him that if is a very long and laborious occupation. It takes a very long time to try a single man in those circumstances. Still, that is nothing if we limit our numbers to, say, 200 or 300. As soon, however, as you get to 20,000 or 30,000 or a much larger number that in my opinion would have to be tried, if all my noble friend's views were accepted, the thing becomes hopeless. The countries engaged in these trials would go on not for one or two years but for a generation trying when they could to collect criminals for trial. Your Lordships will note also that it is those who are tried in the first year or two against whom you might hope to collect evidence. After ten or fifteen years it would be quite hopeless to try to get the necessary evidence.

So my idea is that the suggested scope of the trials to be conducted in the circumstances which my noble friend has mentioned is too large. I should like to add that what I have been saying relates to trials in this country or by British Judges, because it is not my function, nor I suppose the function of any of us, to tell the Russians, or Poles, or the people of other nations who have been injured in the ways enumerated, how they should limit their operations of justice. They must do what they think right, and I conceive that the Russians and the Poles will themselves convict a very great number of German criminals. With regard to trials by us I should like to suggest to His Majesty's Government that it would be well if they altered the jurisdiction of our Courts as soon as possible so that we may be able to try a German for crimes committed against a British subject in Germany. As things stand we cannot do that at present owing to our law of venue. It is high time, I think, that an English Judge should have the right to try not only British subjects but foreigners for any crime committed against a British subject. I cannot understand why that has not already been done.

I am not anxious to take up more than another minute of your Lordships' time and the only thing I have to add to what I have said is this. I think perhaps there are some people who are exaggerating the importance, though I do not doubt it is important, of the punishment of war criminals. A far more important matter, to my mind, is the restoration of those countries who have suffered such terrible injuries at the hands of the Germans. I am in favour of repairing as far as we can those terrible injuries at the expense of the Germans whatever the result on the Germans may be. That, in my opinion, is a more important matter than this question of collecting tens and hundreds of thousands of criminals and punishing them. Punishing criminals is not going to help us as much as the restoration of their country will help those unhappy people whose lands have been occupied by the German beasts.


My Lords, I intervene in this debate with a considerable amount of hesitation partly because I. hesitate to advocate from these Benches the sterner side instead of pleading for mercy, while on the other hand I disagree profoundly with some of the remarks made towards the end of his speech by the noble Lord who has moved this Motion with such great eloquence. I am speaking, primarily, because I am full of pity towards the people who have been suffering the German atrocities and because I am filled with a burning indignation against those who have committed such cruelties. Never in the whole history of the world have cruelties been committed on such a wholesale scale as during the last three or four years. It is true that in the heat of revolution cruelties and atrocities have often been committed. It is true also that in the heat of battle and immediately afterwards cruel, savage things are done of which a civilized country bitterly repents and looks back on with shame, but never have the pages of history shown anything like the cruelties and the wholesale slaughterings which we have had to read about during these last few years. They have been unique in their extensiveness, they have been unique in horror and in the way they have been carried out, unique in their deliberate cruelty, and unique in the way they have been concentrated on people who are helpless and homeless, with no discrimination between men, women and children.

There are, of course, some people in this country who feel that these things are too horrible to be true. I find people writing and saying that these stories are the result of an unscrupulous propaganda. But the evidence is irresistible; it comes from country after country—Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and other places. You cannot deny, I think, that the evidence is overwhelming. I myself, when I was in Russia, came into close contact with some of those who have had first-hand experience of the horrors. I talked with one of the archbishops who is now a member of the State Commission inquiring into these atrocities, and it shows the change in attitude of the State towards religion in Russia that an Archbishop should have been placed upon such a Commission. This man, who is a very wise, thoughtful man, told me how, in one case, he, with other members of the Commission, visited a town two or three days after the Germans had left. There, under thinly scattered earth, they found between three and four thousand people recently killed, men, women and children, some of them obviously tortured before being put to death.

In another place some forty miles from Moscow, which had been occupied by the Germans, I saw the burned cottages. I have seen the ruins of Stalingrad, a terrible sight, but these burned and ruined homes moved me more deeply. There, speaking through an interpreter, I spoke to two women who had been in the village when the Germans came. The old men were at once taken from their homes, not being allowed even a moment, though it was the middle of winter, to get a warm coat, and were marched off to some unknown destination. The women and children, including the two to whom I spoke, were driven into the neighbouring woods. If any of them came out they were shot. Many children died in this way. When the Germans at last left, the only shelter they could get was by digging holes in the earth where it had been thawed by the burning of their homes. Atrocities of this kind have been perpetrated undoubtedly by thousands of people, but we want to get behind the people who actually carried out the operations and to get at the men who have brutalized the youth and manhood of Germany and are responsible for these crimes. If people like Hitler and Himmler manage to escape to some neutral country while their subordinates suffer at home, it will be a monstrous outrage against justice, and it is our duty, the duty of the Allied Governments, to do everything in our power to stop these ways of escape.

I would make another observation on this question of the crimes. These crimes are still continuing; they are not things of the past; even while we are debating here there are, probably, thousands who are being tortured and shot in some of the occupied lands, and our most urgent business is to think how we can save them. I would once again put forward the suggestion that where it is known that certain people have been responsible for these crimes we should not merely make a note of their names and wait until after the war to deal with them, but their names should be broadcast time after time to the countries in which these men are living and serving. I know that it may give them warning, and that some of them may escape because of it. But, as the Allied victory comes nearer, it will be whispered that these men are doomed, and though it may not stop them committing further crimes it may deter others. It may make men who might otherwise commit some of these barbarities hesitate if they know that their names are to be inscribed on a list which will ensure that they will be put on trial when the victory is won. I realize that some such step may save only a few hundred lives, but I suggest that it is well worth trying. For all I know, of course, such names may already have been broadcast. But what I am stressing is that we must use every method in our power to try to arrest these appalling massacres which are continuing day after day.

Now, having said all that, I find myself differing from the noble Lord who spoke at the beginning of this debate in much that he said at the end of his speech. You cannot indict a whole nation, and when I listened to his speech, I admit that I felt real terror as the list of criminals steadily increased and the demand for the punishment of death fell upon them indiscriminately. If we were to adopt unconditionally the policy which the noble Lord has put in front of us, it would mean that for many years after the war we should have to be shooting people in Germany. Our people in Britain would not stand for indiscriminate executions. You would find that the men now serving in our Forces, when the heat of battle is over, would themselves be protesting against such indiscriminate wholesale shootings, and we should leave behind us a legacy of hatred which would endure for generations, and would hinder any further settlement of Europe. But, while I differ from much that the noble Lord said at the end of his speech, I do agree with him, and especially with the noble Lord who has just spoken, in demanding that those who have committed great crimes, and are clearly responsible for the crimes that have been committed, should be brought to punishment. It is justice that demands it, and by their punishment we shall show that the conscience of the Allied Nations to-day regards these crimes as utterly abhorrent and hateful. The sentences passed on these men will be a deterrent to any who, if other wars come, might be tempted to follow in their path.


My Lords, your Lordships will, I think, all agree that the debate which my noble friend Lord Vansittart has initiated to-day has produced some notable speeches which are well worthy of the most careful attention of the House. I intervene at this moment because I wish to state what is the position of the Government in this matter, but not with any idea that the discussion is necessarily to be terminated. I first must thank my noble friend Lord Vansittart for having consented to put off the raising of this question until to-day. I hope he feels that some, at least, of the intervening events—for example the appeal that was made to neutral Powers— have to some extent justified that postponement. Certainly his own speech, eloquent, brilliant and full of deep feeling, could at no moment in the history of the war have been listened to with more attention Indeed, I regard the question which he has raised not only as extremely important but also as being very timely. It is all the more timely, as I will try to point out, not only because of the declaration at Moscow but also because of a passage in the declaration, that remarkable declaration made as the result of the conference of the three great men at Teheran which we read in the newspapers this morning.

As often happens in this House, though the framework of my noble friend's question is limited to warnings to neutrals and methods for securing, if we can, that the principal criminals in this matter do not escape, both the speech of Lord Vansittart and the speeches which have followed have ranged wider than that and I will if I may say first a word upon the wider aspect. As the House knows, we had this subject before us and considered it in a full debate a little more than a year ago— I think it was on October 7 of last year— I had then to make a statement on behalf of His Majesty's Government, and, at the same time, the United States of America received in Washington a corresponding and very emphatic statement from President Roosevelt himself. A good deal has been done since then, and I think that the House would wish briefly to hear what has, in fact, been done in this matter.

By way of preface I would urge upon the House two considerations The first is that in discussing this matter it is very important to keep clearly in mind the distinction between that inner ring of political leaders who must take full responsibility for the awful barbarities of this war, and the large number of people who have been their agents, though in many cases they have no doubt acted themselves with the greatest possible brutality. It is useful to keep that distinction in mind, because I think I can satisfy the House that treatment which might be appropriate in one case would not be appropriate in the other. The other matter I would venture to urge most respectfully on the House, on all who take part in the debate and on all who have given consideration to this matter, is this. From our point of view, the British point of view, we must never fail, however deeply we are tried, and however fundamentally we are moved by the sufferings of others, to do justice according to justice. There must be no mass execution of great numbers of nameless people merely because there have been frightful mass executions on the other side. We shall never do any good to our own standards, to our own reputation and to the ultimate reform of the world if what we do is not reasonably consistent with justice. Justice, indeed, calls for very severe measures, and I go the whole way with my noble friend in what he said on that subject; but, whatever happens, do not let us depart from the principle that war criminals shall be dealt with because they are proved to be criminals, and not because they belong to a race led by a maniac and a murderer who has brought this frightful evil upon the world.

Briefly, then, what is it that we have already done? There was announced, as I have indicated, in October of last year the intention of the United States of America and of His Majesty's Government here to set up what was called a United Nations Commission for the investigation of war crimes. President Roosevelt, as I have said, issued a contemporaneous statement strongly supporting that course. The first matter of which I wish to inform your Lordships as a matter of fact is that this Commission has been set up, that it has been decided that its centre shall be here in London, and that its president shall be that well-known international authority Sir Cecil Hurst, who for many years served on the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague. Only within the last day or two I have had the pleasure of welcoming His Excellency Mr. Pell, who has been nominated by President Roosevelt to be the representative of the United States on that Commission.

There have been meetings at the Foreign Office which I have attended, and at some of which I have presided in the absence of the Foreign Secretary, to which great numbers of the Allied Nations have sent their representatives—meetings, I should think, of thirty or so. The work has been parcelled out, methods of procedure have been discussed and decided upon, and all this is addressed to the essential purpose—so easily omitted in speeches made on this subject—not only of recording the evidence but of identifying the criminal. My noble friend Lord Vansittart, in his most moving address, spoke of his own knowledge of many of these shocking events. I wonder in how many of the cases known to him he can say at this moment that he knows the name of the man and can identify the German officer responsible for some shocking piece of brutality. Believe me, you can never do any good in the business of punishing the ordinary war criminal—I put Hitler and Himmler and Mussolini and the other leaders on one side for the moment—unless you can identify him, and unless you can produce the evidence which proves that it is he who perpetrated the crime. Any general talk about inflicting the penalty of death upon many thousands of people is, with great respect, not to the point unless you are prepared to prove the identity of the people who are really responsible for these crimes.

I have therefore felt from the beginning that the work which this Commission was called upon to do—the work of receiving and recording the evidence that should be given, in many cases in affidavit form, knowing who the witnesses were, when and where the thing happened, and, above all, who is the guilty, wicked villain who must be held principally responsible for such hideous action on the spot—is very much more to the point in dealing with the subject of war criminals than any general rhetoric or declamation. In point of fact, a large number of the United Nations have already collected a great mass of material. I believe that our friends the Russians have done so, and I know that the Poles, the Norwegians and others have done so. All this material is being collected in order to be sifted, and the whole purpose of this organization set up by the authority of President Roosevelt and of His Majesty's Government here, and supported by so many other Governments, is that we may have in good time information which will enable us to know who it is who is wanted for this or that piece of brutality and, if he is secured, how the evidence against him can be produced. I do most earnestly appeal to your Lordships to believe that in taking what may seem to be a rather lower line and a rather more humdrum attitude about this, it is not for want of any full share of intense and furious indignation, and it is not for want of any genuine sympathy; it is simply because this is the only way in which our British tradition and—and here I agree with the most reverend Prelate—our British people will ever in the end stand for the punishment of ordinary war crminals at all.

The second difficulty, which was also pointed out in the debate a year ago, and which is an extremely serious one, is that of getting hold of the accused. At this distance of time we are accustomed all to agree that there was a great deal which was very much mismanaged in connexion with this matter at the end of the last war. Perhaps that shows how difficult a matter it is. One of the things which was entirely wrong at that time was to wait until the official Treaty of Peace was drawn up and signed before we stipulated for the surrender of any criminals at all. I think that General Smuts, whose observations on the subject are now published, observed the other day that he was not sure that there ever would be a Treaty of Peace this time at all. At any rate do not let us wait until the Treaty of Peace is solemnly drawn up and engrossed and signed and scaled before insisting on the surrender of those whom we wish to accuse of war crimes. That is the reason why, in the debate a year ago, His Majesty's Government, through me, put forward the proposal that this must be part of the terms of any armistice, and that we should say that these men must be handed over as a condition of there being any armistice at all. The same proposal and method of procedure is, as your Lordships will have noticed, included in the terms of the Moscow announcement made the other day.

If first of all, therefore, you can get the evidence against the individual whom you mean to charge, and secondly get hold of the individual who is to be charged, you may be in a position to deal with very considerable numbers of those who in the last four years have perpetrated these villainies. I venture to observe, with particular reference to something which fell from my noble and learned friend Lord Maugham, that I believe that this method of procedure would go a long way to reconcile what he pointed out was his view with the view of Lord Vansittart. My noble and learned friend argued, I felt with great force, that in the case of the ordinary German soldier, whatever else he is doing, he is shooting under orders as a member of the firing squad. It might well be difficult to think that you could really devise a system of trial and punishment which would govern such a case. I think there is great force in that; and while I am sure neither my noble friend nor I would suggest for a moment that superior orders are an excuse for any actions of manifest barbarity and villainy —never would I agree to such a proposition: it is not a true proposition— at the same time the thing that really matters most is not the man who carries out the order, but the man who gives it, the man who directs that these shocking barbarities should be perpetrated. And I am sure I share the feeling of my noble friend Lord Vansittart when he referred just now to that Inter-Allied Information Committee's report of a few days ago. I heard it in my own home on the wireless, and indeed you must be lost to all feelings of human tragedy if you do not declare that wickedness like that calls to Heaven for punishment.

That is what I have to say about what I may call the more ordinary criminal. But I do urge on the House that it is really very necessary to take a rather different view of what I have described as the inner ring of principal political leaders who must take a general responsibility for the barbarities of the war. I do not say exactly where the line should be drawn. But I think it would be intolerable that the Allies should be making arrangements for indicting and punishing and executing men of lower grade, and yet that those who are the principal criminals of the lot should go scathless. I do not believe that the British people would ever accept that as a just and reasonable apportionment of our powers of punishment. On the other hand, speaking for the moment purely for myself, I question very much whether the ordinary process and formalities of a trial are equally appropriate for the German officer who must be proved to have authorized a particular crime and for those who from beginning to end are known to all the world, by their own declarations and by their own policy, to have been pursuing this depth of wickedness as part of their ambition. I think it may well be that the methods by which the Allies would wish to deal in the last resort with what I have described as the inner ring of political leaders, are not the same as the methods which are appropriate for a person who, it may be with some difficulty, is identified as a particular war criminal for a particular act at a particular place.

Thus arises the question which my noble friend Lord Vansittart expressly puts upon the Paper to-day. We see the war advancing with inevitable strides to its predestined, ultimate end, and the day may come when some of these principal villains will endeavour to retreat to some place of greater safety than their own country or the countries of their allies. Anticipating that, what is it which the Allied Nations have done? A short account of it was given in the debate, but I think a slightly more amplified version would be useful. It was towards the end of July that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom consulted the United States and the Soviet Government on this question. The significance of the date will not escape your Lordships, of course. This was connected with the collapse of Italy. We consulted Soviet Russia and the United States with a view to issuing a warning to certain neutral countries against providing shelter or protection for prominent war criminals, and we had in mind names right at the top of the list. We thought, as others have thought, that there might be an attempt by some of these to seek asylum in neutral territory, and it was as the result of that consultation between ourselves and the United States and Soviet Russia, that His Majesty's representatives made a communication, which I will read to the House, to a number of neutral capitals. I will read the list. Instructions were given to make the communication at Ankara, Berne, Buenos Aires, Lisbon, Madrid, Stockholm and the Vatican.

This was the communication: In view of developments in Italy and the possibility that Mussolini and other prominent Fascists and persons guilty of war crimes may attempt to take refuge in neutral territory, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom feel obliged to call upon all neutral countries to refuse asylum to any such persons, and to declare that they would regard any shelter, assistance or protection given to such persons as a violation of the principles for which the United Nations are fighting, and which they are determined to carry into effect by every means in their power. The Government of the United States simultaneously instructed their representatives in neutral countries to give a similar official notice, and the Soviet Government instructed their representatives at Stockholm and Ankara, which, as far as they were concerned were the principal places, to make a similar, parallel communication. I think it was my noble and learned friend Lord Maugham who observed that this communication was not in every respect welcomed. As a matter of fact it did not require any reply at all: it was not couched in a form to ask for a reply. And it is true that some of those to whom it was addressed were concerned, and very naturally concerned, to insist that they, too, were sovereign States. But I think it is fair to say, and it is certainly the view of the Foreign Office, that so far as we did receive replies from these neutral States they were replies which, while reserving of course all the rights which a neutral State would have, thoroughly appreciated the motives which His Majesty's Government had in mind in making their representations.

What has followed from that? As we have been reminded already, that notice, which in itself was primarily addressed to the question of Italian refugees, of course is now extended, and is well understood to be extended, to the even more important case of German refugees, and the declaration on German atrocities which has been issued as the result of the Moscow Conference is addressed in the same way to warn neutral States that we who are carrying the burden of the war and are determined that it shall end in the re-establishment of decent rights for all free men, must call upon these neutrals to recognize that they, too, have some responsiblity and should not receive such refugees. I observed when I began that the communication issued this morning from Teheran bears also on this point. I am not sure that this has been very generally noticed. Allow me to read one sentence, and one sentence only, from the document over the names of Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill which we see in our newspapers this morning. This is the sentence: We shall seek the co-operation and the active participation of all nations, large and small, whose peoples in heart and mind are dedicated, as are our own peoples, to the elimination of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance. I take that to be addressed, not through diplomatic representatives but by this modern scientific invention which passes such a proclamation over the whole world, amongst others to the neutral States. It is right that it should be so.

How does the matter really stand? I shall detain your Lordships for a few moments longer to say, and I think I can state it in terms which no competent international lawyer or diplomat would challenge. There is no such thing in International Law as right of asylum attaching to an individual. It is part undoubtedly of the sovereignty of any State to admit within its borders such foreigners as seek to enter if the State so chooses, but that does not give to the refugee who is admitted any right at all to say, "Here I am and here I stay." Even though the State has admitted him, the State is perfectly at liberty to eject him, although there is no absolute treaty obligation to eject unless some treaty of extradition applies.

It so happens that I remember in my own experience—it must be thirty years ago now—an instance which illustrates this very neatly. I have never seen it referred to since, but I am very clear about the facts, and probably my noble friend Lord Tyrrel is in a position to correct me if I am wrong. When I was a Law Officer of the Crown a man called Savarkah, an Indian, was arrested in this country as a fugitive offender, and he was to be returned to India to be tried there on a criminal charge. He was put in custody on a P. and O. boat going, no doubt, from the Thames to Bombay. These ships, as your Lordships know, called at Marseilles, and when this vessel was in Marseilles harbour Savarkah succeeded in escaping through a porthole—a very remarkable thing to do. He swam ashore, eluded those who were guarding the port, and made his way into the interior of France. There was a hue and cry, in which the French police joined, and he was ultimately seized at Lyons, handed back to the ship, and in due course taken to India for trial. Thereupon a claim arose by the French Government against the British Government in which they said in effect: "You had no right to take this man from French soil, put him back in your British ship, and take him to India." Indeed, if those had been the true facts, we should have had no right. But what I remember very clearly as our answer, for which the Law Officers were responsible—which succeeded—was this: "We did not lake him. It was your own police who arrested him. It was your own police who brought him back to Marseilles. It was your own police who handed him over to our ship. And having done that, you have no right to assert that your sovereignty has been violated, for it was your own action which handed him over, and he has no right to claim that he, as an individual, has any right of asylum." We went to arbitration at The Hague I think—at any rate, before a distinguished foreign arbitrator— and, for once in a while, the British Government won.

Therefore you see quite clearly there is no right of asylum attaching to Hitler, Himmler, Mussolini, or anyone else. It is a question for the neutral States, if any of these people try to enter, as to what they should do. I must say I take this view: whatever may be the formal right of sovereignty of a neutral State, if it, in the language of this communiqué from Teheran, is one seeking to co-operate, as small State or large State, "in heart and mind dedicated to the elimination of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance," I should certainly expect that that neutral State would neither receive nor keep such a man. That is the immediate answer to the question put down on the Paper by my noble friend Lord Vansittart.

I have tried with candour to state what is the attitude of the British Government in the matter, and would only say this in conclusion. It is very characteristic of the British temper that we ourselves, even in the face of these frightful barbarities, should keep a measure of coolness, should not allow our circulation to be too much quickened, or our blood pressure to be too much raised; but this brutality is eating into the very heart and vitals of other people who are our Allies in this struggle. I have met many times on this matter representatives of the small nations of Europe. I know that to them the possibility of this great and powerful country declaring boldly for the punishment of war criminals appears to offer some relief, some hope, when they get news of the maltreatment and massacre of their own kith and kin. We have to think of others besides ourselves in this matter, but in doing so let us stick to it, whatever be the temptations to go further, that the only punishment which Britain should ever authorize is punishment based on justice. That means punishment which is not administered wholesale by way of mass execution, but is administered to an individual because the case against him is proved. This World War has developed with its inevitable strides, like the unfolding of a Greek tragic drama. It moves to its appointed end, bringing at last relief to those who have been so sorely tried, but bringing upon the guilty authors of this savagery an unmistakable doom—that fate of which the Roman poet spoke when he said: Its step may halt—but seldom leaves The guilty wretch whose track it hounds. We have with our immense tradition of British justice an all-important part to play in the most difficult circumstances. Let no one imagine that we do not burn with the same indignation as any other man feels or expresses. Let us strain to do all that we can to punish crime where we find it but, first and last, let us be sure that the actual individual is proved to be guilty of the crime with which he is charged.


My Lords, I can claim with confidence that everyone in this quarter of the House agrees with the Government on the statement which has just been so eloquently made by the Lord Chancellor. We are glad to hear that the Government are determined to take every step possible to ensure that war criminals shall be apprehended. We know that they will set up a proper court where justice can be done. When my noble friend Lord Vansittart was making a catalogue of the crimes, he did not specifically refer to perhaps the greatest crime of all. I refer to it only to show how difficult it would be to take another view from that which the Lord Chancellor has propounded. Perhaps the greatest crime in this ghastly catalogue is the determination, open and avowed, completely to exterminate the Jewish race in certain large parts of the Continent of Europe. I suppose from what I have read that if that strange man, rightly described by the Lord Chancellor as a maniac and a murderer, had it in his power, he would not shrink from exterminating the Jews throughout the whole world. In the process of committing that deed an enormous number of people have been guilty of the crime of murder, far more than on those ghastly occasions of the shooting of people in reprisal or the more terrible crimes against women and children. If we are agreed that the evidence which is given to us is true, then it shows that the greater part of the Army and the whole of the German Civil Service is undoubtedly guilty of murder, for they have agreed to, and have taken part in, the killing of people who have committed no crime known to any system of law in the whole world. Such a thing I do not think has ever been done before, at any rate not in the Christian era.

It follows, then, that it is wise, as suggested by Lord Maugham, endorsed by the Lord Chancellor, and pleaded for by the most reverend Prelate opposite, that we should concentrate upon those at the top or near the top—they will amount to a considerable number—and make sure that they are identified, make sure that they are tried by process of laws, make sure that the evidence against them is adequate, and then let them receive the just reward of their crimes. But if we are to adopt the other method, which, rightly or wrongly, has been attributed to my noble friend Lord Vansittart, we must see at once that the time factor renders it impossible. It will go on and on. We could not depart from the rule of law to which we ourselves lay claim that the man in the dock is a representative man and that he has committed a crime. It would take, no doubt, as has been suggested, a long time to do that; on a very hasty calculation I should say it would take many generations to complete the trial of such war criminals. Incidentally might I respectfully ask the Lord Chancellor if he could before this debate closes answer a question propounded by Lord Maugham which has occurred to a good many of us? How far would it be possible now at once to amend the law so as to enable a British Court to try, and if found guilty, punish a German who has committed a crime against an Englishman in Germany?


It was my intention to mention that, but speaking without careful notes caused me to forget to say what I should wish to say, and in any case out of courtesy to my noble friend Lord Maugham I would have said. The point he makes is, I think, an extremely important one. I can assure him it is under consideration and indeed I have been looking at suggested drafts.


I am much obliged.


I will not detain your Lordships further except to say that we do fully agree with this view. We realize the horror of the whole thing. We also realize that millions of people are waiting to hear what we intend to do. We say resolutely that such ghastly crimes shall be visited with appropriate punishment, not in the spirit of revenge but in the spirit of justice. Our aim is not revenge. No; it is our duty to see justice done.


My Lords, I will detain you for only one moment. There seems to me just one little gap in this debate. I have, as your Lordships know, returned lately from China and I know from what I heard there that the Japanese methods of war are identical with those of the Germans. In fact, I am not at all sure they are not rather more subtle in one particular. The opium trade, which had been completely stamped out of China, has been re-instituted by the Japanese in the occupied areas. The Japanese are doing everything they can by starvation and by opium to debase in every way the morale and the living conditions of the Chinese. I therefore intervene with this plea, that whatever arrangements are made in regard to Germany, which this debate has very properly ranged round, shall be made also in regard to the criminals in Japan for what the Japanese have done in China.


My Lords, I do not intervene to discuss the question which has mainly occupied your Lordships, the question how far it is right or possible to go in identifying the actual war criminals or how far it is humanly possible to follow the crimes down to the humble perpetrators. That is a question which I quite agree with Lord Mottistone ought 1o be approached not from any point of view of revenge but from the point of view of vindicating justice and of deterring other people from doing the same thing. I just want to offer one or two suggestions to my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack about procedure. First of all, I agree with my noble friend Lord Maugham about providing for the trial of people who have been guilty of outrages upon our British soldiers in occupied Europe or in Germany.

I should also like to suggest to my noble friend on the Woolsack that when last year, in October I think, as we have been reminded, the Allied Nations made a declaration that the war criminals must be punished, one reason for this no doubt was that they thought it would discourage the Germans from perpetrating war crimes in the future. I am afraid it has not had that effect. It has not discouraged them from committing crimes, but has encouraged them in making crimes universal so as to prevent any witnesses from surviving. That is rather a tragic result. I suggest to my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack that as soon as we set up these Allied tribunals to ascertain the names of the war criminals and the crimes of which they have been guilty, we should in this country provide that the findings of a tribunal should be prima facie evidence of guilt; in other words that a man found guilty by a tribunal should have the right, of course, to prove he is innocent, but that the finding of the tribunal should be presumptive evidence that he was guilty both for the purposes of extradition to any other of the United Nations which wanted him and also in our own Courts in order to put him on proof that he is not guilty. That, I think, is a rather important suggestion. I have read—of course I do not know if it is so—that the Germans are perpetrating these mass executions in order to prevent any witnesses surviving and that, as my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack has said, would make it almost impossible to prove their guilt in an English court of law, but if the tribunal which has investigated the evidence and has got prima facie proof from the survivors and put it on record that a particular man has been found guilty by the tribunal, then that, I think, ought to be sufficient evidence to require him to disprove his guilt instead of leaving the onus on the prosecution to prove him guilty.

I suggest that to my noble and learned friend for consideration. If he is going to propose an amendment in the law on the lines suggested by my noble and learned friend Viscount Maugham he might add that as a useful contribution. If he does that, then the Germans or the Japanese or anybody found guilty of these crimes by the tribunal, must be put to proof of their innocence so that the difficulty of proving guilt in a court of law, or even of finding witnesses, in England might be overcome. I would also like to say that I do not quite agree with my noble and learned friend Viscount Maugham that British Judges should be mainly occupied in trying these men. British Judges ought to try these war criminals for crimes committed either in this country or against British citizens, but I think the Allied Nations should be left to try criminals in the case of their own nationals. They will have their own procedure and their own methods of dealing with the criminals.


May I say that I intended that? I must have made a slip of the tongue if my noble and learned friend thought otherwise. I intended that every country should try crimes against their own nations.


I quite agree with my noble friend.


My Lords, I believe I have a right to reply, and I shall exercise it with brevity and, I hope, with moderation. The noble and learned Viscount who immediately followed me seemed to suggest that I had proposed the punishment of all German men. While I was listening to him there came to my mind a passage from the works of Sterne in which he says: To this my Uncle Toby would never offer to reply by any other argument than that of whistling half a dozen bars of Lilli-Bullero. Your Lordships, however, will be saved from that retort by two facts, the first that happily I cannot whistle and the second that I have forgotten the tune.


I do not like my noble friend putting it like that. He has misunderstood what I said. I never said that my noble friend had himself suggested that all German males should be killed. What I said was quite different. What I said was that the moral that I drew from his speech was that they all ought to be killed. If what I said suggested that he said that I at once withdraw it because I know he never suggested anything of the sort.


I am relieved to hear my noble and learned friend's explanation, which I accept most fully. The misunderstanding must be entirely on my side. Perhaps it arose from the fact that I am a little used to being thought an extremest because I sometimes speak and feel deeply on these matters. There was further, I think, a little misunderstanding between me and the noble Viscount who immediately followed me because I have not said that all underlings are to be punished alike. All I said was that the Soviet Government had made it plain on many occasions, as for example in the Soviet War News on December 3, that receipt of orders—I want to lay great stress on this—will not act necessarily as cover. That is the attitude of an Allied Government. Therefore, if there is any challenge on that the challenge must be directed to them and not to me. Personally I think, as I said in my speech, that that provision is a wise one. I do not suppose it will be applied indiscriminately, but it is a necessary provision because otherwise you will whittle down the list so greatly that in effect the situation will not be remedied. You would get ultimately perhaps to the position where, as one noble Lord suggested, the total list might be 200 or 300. I think that would be taken as rather a meagre list seeing that already nearly 20,000,000 people have been done to death. The list is bound to grow more widely than that.

I come next to an observation thrice repeated in the speech of the most reverend Prelate, the Archbishop of York. He thrice used the word "indiscriminately" and I think he intended that the word should apply to me. That would be an entire misrepresentation of my speech because I suggested most precisely various categories which I do not think you could allow to remain at liberty without damage to the prospects of a future settlement. I enumerated the categories most carefully. There is nothing indiscriminate in that. Finally, I would like to say again that I have never recommended mass executions. I, like the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, spoke most clearly of Commissions of Identification, and all I said was that they must be given time to do their work and that I thought it would take at least a year. That I think disposes of the remark by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, that I was contemplating that this should go on for ever. You have to give time but I do not think it need be a long time. If you are going to deprive them of even the possibility of having a year ahead of them you will get nothing in the net and you will come again to what I quoted from Mr. Manuilski.

The prime consideration is social hygiene and if, at the end of all this, you are really going to include a few hundred names, you will find yourselves confronted again with exactly the same position as after the last war, when the hooligans—and they will be far more numerous and corrupt—were so active and violent that they ruined any chance of betterment in Germany itself. Your Lordships will have to take your choice. If you limit the list to something so exiguous it will be of no effect. If you want sanity you must begin by sanitation. If you are going to wipe out that and limit it to something quite tiny you will not be accomplishing that effect. I must leave you with that choice. I do not think it will rest entirely with us. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.


My Lords, will you allow me to say in reply to my noble friend Lord Teviot, that everything that I said on behalf of the Government was intended to apply to China? Your Lordships will be glad to know that Dr. Wellington Koo, the distinguished Ambassador for China, is himself a member of the Commission for investigating war crimes.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.