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Austrians And Germans (Description)

Volume 414: debated on Thursday 11 October 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will consider an alternative to the description Enemy Alien for those Austrians and Germans who have proved by military service or in other ways their loyalty to this country and to democratic principles, particularly in view of the offence it gives at the present time to many such persons.

The expression "enemy alien" merely connotes a foreigner who is the subject of a State at war with His Majesty and has no necessary reference to the political sympathies of those so described. The description is used only in formal documents in which technical accuracy cannot be avoided. Except in a few cases personal to the individuals, all the Germans and Austrians who have proved their loyalty to the cause of the United Nations have been exempted from the special restrictions applicable to aliens of enemy nationality, and are treated in the same way, and are subject only to the same restrictions, as aliens of Allied nationality.

Can the Minister say whether it is not a fact that at one time in connection with Austrians and Germans there was a number who were entitled to no description on their official documents?

I hope the answer I have given will indicate this is merely a technical definition to which we are bound to adhere.

Can the Minister give me an answer to the question which I asked at one time of the last Prime Minister without success: How are we to be enabled to distinguish our friendly enemies from our hostile friends?

I would hesitate to say that my powers of improvisation were greater than those of the last Prime Minister.

Even though it is a technical definition, is it not grossly unfair to the Austrians who were among Hitler's first victims, and is it not in effect recognising the Anschluss and recognising Hitler's seizure of Austria?