HL Deb 26 March 1953 vol 181 cc329-30

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, may I, with the leave of the House, intervene for a moment to make a brief statement on the subject of the present position on the Naumann proceedings?

In my statement to the House on January 28, on the detention of seven former leading Nazis by the British authorities in Germany I said that the investigation of the evidence was continuing and would take several weeks to complete. The results have now been communicated to the German Federal Chancellor, who has asked that Naumann and his associates be handed over to the German Federal authorities for investigation and prosecution by them in a German court. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has authorised the High Commissioner to comply with this request and the High Commissioner is, of course, also handing over to the German authorities the seized documents and the evidence collected during the investigation. The German authorities may decide not to prosecute some of the seven men detained. In that event those not to be prosecuted will be released, but their detention and interrogation and the impounding of their documents will have provided valuable evidence for the prosecution of Naumann and his associates.

The matter will now come before the German courts, and it would not be proper for me to attempt to foretell their verdict. I think, however, that the decision now taken by Dr. Adenauer and the German Federal Government, which is welcomed by Her Majesty's Government, fully justifies the action taken by the British High Commissioner on my right honourable friend's authority in detaining these men for interrogation, under his special powers. Our intention from the beginning has been to frustrate a serious potential danger, to bring the facts to light and to enable the German authorities and the German people to form their own judgment upon them. I trust that this purpose will now be served and this important matter should, I think, at this stage be left in the hands of the German Federal Government and the German courts.


My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Marquess one question. I suppose it is plain that the German authorities will make up their minds promptly whether they are going to prosecute any of these men. I take it that the men the authorities decide to prosecute will be handed over to the German authorities, and we wash our hands of the matter; and that the men who are not to be prosecuted will be discharged, so that we shall be out of the matter altogether.


Yes, my Lords, that is the position. The German authorities now have all the material which we have been able to collect. They will no doubt make up their minds, having already begun to consider the matter, in a brief space of time. Those whom they desire to prosecute will be handed over to them. The remainder will be released. In regard to them all our responsibility will be terminated.