HC Deb 18 July 1960 vol 627 cc3-4W
44. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the ill-treatment of the Commander of the British Military Mission to the Soviet forces in East Germany, and members of his staff, by East German police.

Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what protest he has made against the maltreatment of members of the British Military Mission to Potsdam by the authorities in East Germany.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

On 21st June some members of the British Military Mission attached to the Soviet Commander in Chief in Germany were assaulted by East German police when travelling in two cars near Potsdam. A detailed account of the incident is given below. On 23rd June a strong oral protest was made to the Head of the Soviet Military Mission attached to the British Commanders in Chief in Germany and on 25th June the Army Commander in Chief in Germany, General Cassels, sent a written letter of protest to the Soviet Commander in Chief. The Soviet reply was sent on 4th July. I regret to say that it was unsatisfactory in that it did not indicate that steps were being taken to prevent further molestation of the British Mission by East German police and did not guarantee that the British Mission would be able to operate freely and safely in the future.

The French and United States Military Missions have been subjected to similar harassment and have also protested to the Soviet authorities. So far as I am aware, they have not yet received replies. Our authorities in Germany are acting in close concert with the French and United States authorities.

Following are the details of the incident: At 0905 hours on 21st June uniformed police held up two cars of the British Military Mission travelling near Potsdam in an area free from travel restrictions. Plain clothes men, who had been shadowing the cars, then drove up. When the British officers, who included Brigadier Packard, the Chief of the Mission, alighted to identify themselves and demand release, the plain clothes men struck them, seized the camera with which one officer was attempting to secure photographic evidence of the incident, and forced them back to their cars at revolver point. The uniformed police then mounted an armed guard on the cars. At 1100 hours more plain clothes men arrived and said they intended to search the British cars, using force if necessary. When Brigadier Packard protested he was again threatened with a revolver. The plain clothes men then forced both cars open, breaking a window with a brick which injured one of the passengers, Corporal Cron, Royal Air Force. They struck the occupants of the cars and stole all portable equipment in the cars, including binoculars cameras, maps and a wristwatch. They then left, while uniformed police continued to keep the British cars under armed guard until a Soviet officer arrived at 1630 hours and ordered their release.

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