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Refugees And Displaced Persons

Volume 415: debated on Wednesday 31 October 1945

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asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, whether he has considered the announcement of Herr Schlaffer, Director of Refugees and Displaced Persons in the Russian zone of Germany, to the effect that an agreement was reached on 15th October for orderly transfer of refugees from Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary, at the rate of 28,000 daily; the future arrivals to total 4,500,000, 2,500,000 from Czechoslovakia, 1,500,000 from Poland and 500,000 from Hungary and, as the proposed transfer during the winter months may precipitate widespread starvation, what action does His Majesty's Government propose to take; and whether the transfer was agreed to by the British authorities in Germany.

I have no knowledge of the announcement referred to other than has appeared in the Press, but inquiries are being made.


asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many refugees, other than those returning to their own homes, have entered the British zone in Germany during the last three months from the Russian, American and French zones, respectively; what is the approximate daily average of entries from each of these zones since 1st October, 1945; and what arrangements have been made with the three Governments concerned to put an end to any further large influx of such refugees.

It has not been possible in the time available to obtain the statistical information asked for but inquiries are being made. It will be appreciated that in the conditions existing in Germany today it is difficult com pletely to control the unauthorized movement of refugees, but I can assure the hon. Member that our representatives on the Allied Control Commission are fully alive to the situation.

What positive action is being taken to reach agreement with the Soviet Government concerning this? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there has been an average daily influx of some 10,000 Germans from the Russian zone to the area of Hanover over the past four weeks?

I am aware that there has been a large influx of refugees into the Hanover zone, to our zone in Berlin and to other parts of our zone in Germany, but, as stated in my answer, this matter is being dealt with by the Allied Control Commission in Germany and our representatives axe doing everything possible to secure some arrangement to lead to the control of some of these un authorised movements.

In view of the poignancy and extreme danger of this problem is it not highly desirable that, with the approval of the Allied Governments, the hon. Gentleman or some Cabinet Minister from this country, should go there to investigate and see whether a stoppage cannot be made to this traffic before it ends in a major disaster?

I want to assure my Noble Friend that I have already visited Germany to make personal investigations into this and other matters. Other visits will be made to keep touch with the situation, and we are closely in touch with our representatives on the Allied Control Commission.

Will not a too rigid prevention of refugees entering our zone mean that they will be allowed to starve in the Russian zone?

Rigid prevention is impossible. The man-power position makes it impossible, but everything that is possible in present circumstances is being done.