HC Deb 31 October 1944 vol 404 cc641-2W
Sir D. Hacking

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what attitude he proposes to adopt against the German Home Guard in view of the fact that when the British Home Guard was first constituted as the L.D.V. its members were officially denounced by Germany as francs-tireurs who could not in any circumstances be given the benefit of combatant status and would be shot out of hand.

Mr. George Hall

I am advised that no substantial distinction can be drawn between the position in international law of the Volkssturm and of the L.D.V. when they were formed in 1940. As the right hon. Member is aware, His Majesty's Government were throughout satisfied that the L.D.V. fulfilled those requirements of international law which would entitle them upon capture by the enemy to be treated as prisoners. Provided, therefore, that members of the Volkssturm conform in practice to the requirements of international law and carry out their operations in accordance with the rules of war, they are entitled to be treated as legal combatants. If, however, they depart from the provisions of international law and the rules of war, they lose such protection and will be treated accordingly. I do not consider that the threats which were uttered by the Germans in 1940 about the L.D.V. are material in considering the status of the Volkssturm at the present time.