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Germany

Volume 415: debated on Monday 5 November 1945

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Geneva Convention

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, as Germany has been defeated and no longer exists as a sovereign State, he will give instructions that the Geneva Convention shall no longer apply to German prisoners.

No, Sir. Germany has not ceased to exist as a State, though the exercise of supreme authority in Germany has been assumed by the Allied Powers. His Majesty's Government consider that it is right that the standards of the Geneva Convention should, so far as practicable in present circumstances, continue to apply to German prisoners.

Populations (Expulsion)

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that the Allied Commission has not yet reported on the rate at which expelled Germans can be received into occupied Germany, what action he has taken with the Governments of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary on the decisions to expel 4,500,000 Germans at the rate of 30,000 a day, commencing on 15th October.

:My right hon. Friend still has no official knowledge of any decision to expel 4,500,000 Germans, nor has he of the reports in this morning's Press of expulsions contemplated by the Soviet authorities, but he has called for immediate report upon both these points.

:As the matter is so very urgent, may I ask my hon. Friend whether, in view of the fact that the Russian Government could obviously stop these deportations if they so chose, he will assure the House that the strongest possible representations have been made by His Majesty's Government to the Russian Government in this respect?

While my right hon. Friend would not wish to appear unsympathetic, I must point out that we cannot, lacking official confirmation, accept the implications in my hon. Friend's supplementary question.

Is it a fact or not that 500,000 people are being dumped in the British zone?

As I have already explained, we have no information on this subject and I could not accept that as a fact.

In view of the tragic situation, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter once more on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

Murdered British Prisoners

48.

asked the Prime Minister when the murderers of British prisoners of war at Stalag Luft III will be brought to trial.

I have been asked to reply. The murders at Stalag Luft III are included in the indictment against the major war criminals being tried at Nuremburg later this month. The exact date of the trial of the many other persons involved in the murders has not been fixed. Some of those implicated are not yet in custody; others have been found to be dead. Investigations are being vigorously pursued, both by British and Allied personnel.

Will the right hon. Gentleman be sure that this does not develop into another Belsen trial?

Polish Displaced Persons (Postal Facilities)

52.

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps are being taken to allow the Polish displaced persons in Germany to communicate with their families in Poland.

Regular postal services are available between all Allied displaced persons located in assembly centres in the British zone of Germany and their next-of-kin in other countries. The services operate in both directions, but next-of-kin may originate correspondence only after they have received their first letter.

While I thank the Minister for his reply, is he aware that nearly a fortnight ago these people were under the impression that they were not able to communicate with their relatives at home?

The fact is that a special postal service has been in operation for some time between Polish displaced persons in the British zone and their relatives in Poland, but this arrangement was superseded on 20th October by a service which is provided now for all displaced persons in the British zone, which provides free postal facilities with next-of-kin in their own countries.

France (British Consulates)

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps are being taken to reopen British consulates in France.

British consular posts have so far been reopened at Paris, Bordeaux, Havre, Lille, Lyons, Marseilles, Nice, Rouen and Strasbourg. It is expected that the post at Nantes will be reopened shortly.

Palestine (Government Policy)

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the urgency of making provision for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution, he will make a statement on short-term policy of immigration into Palestine before he goes to America

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) on 30th October, in which I said that I was not yet in a position to say when a statement would be made but that it would be made as soon as possible.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the continued silence of His Majesty's Government makes it impossible for the loyal Jews in Palestine to exercise any control over the terrorists?

I do not accept that for a moment. I cannot see that a matter of waiting for a day or two is any excuse whatever for resort to violence.

Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows that since 1939 there has been in existence a White Paper which has been declared time after time to be illegal, and that it is not fair to make the people in Palestine wait further for permitted immigration in view of what was decided by the Mandates Commission..

I have already said that a statement will be made. There can be no excuse whatever for not giving a reasonable time to allow a statement to be made and in any case there is no excuse for violence.

I beg to give notice that I intend to raise this matter on the Adjournment.