§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government whether those Pioneers who are German Jews are being sent abroad unnaturalized, and, if so, what will be their position should they be surrendered.]
My Lords, the position of members of His Majesty's Forces who are taken prisoner by the enemy is determined by the Prisoners of War Convention, under which it is not necessary that members of the Forces should be nationals of the Power in whose Forces they serve, order to benefit by its provisions. Nearly all German Jews in this country lost German nationality before German law under the Eleventh 699 Ordinance of the Reich Citizenship Law of November 25, 1941, which provides that a Jew who has his ordinary abode abroad may not be a German national. The vast majority of German Jews in this country are therefore Stateless. Any Jews of the Pioneer Corps who still possess German nationality might legally be prosecuted by the Germans for treason if they were captured as the Prisoners of War Convention does not prevent this. However, as British nationality would not have caused them to lose their German nationality under the Decree I have already mentioned their position would not be improved, in the event of their being taken prisoners, by British naturalization.
§ LORD WEDGWOOD
My Lords, may I ask a supplementary question arising out of that answer? I am not happy and I do not think the noble Lord is, as to how the Germans would actually treat these people who have been deprived of citizenship if they are not nationals of any country. Who would protect them? So far as individual surrenders are concerned it would be their own funeral, but if they should happen to be surrendered by a British officer as part of a larger surrender we could never hold up our heads again if they were shot. I would like to ask the noble Viscount to consider the American system whereby, after ninety days in the Forces, aliens are allowed to opt for American citizenship. Would he consider that precedent and bring the matter up again with the Government to see whether something can be done?
If we did adopt the American system to which the noble Lord refers and Germans did opt for British nationality, they would not be any better off if captured, because the Germans would not recognize it. They would be treated in exactly the same way as German citizens. If they are Stateless, they already come under the Prisoners of War Convention and would be treated in the same way as British soldiers.
§ LORD WEDGWOOD
If they are Stateless, there is no one to speak for them. If they are British subjects they have the whole power of the British Empire behind them.
I would like to have notice of this matter. But, as I understand the position, if they are British soldiers serving in the Forces of the Crown they obviously would receive the same protection as other British soldiers under the Convention, and any action taken by the German authorities would be a contravention of the Prisoners of War Convention just as much as if taken against British soldiers.