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War Graves (Relatives Visit)

Volume 440: debated on Tuesday 22 July 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that the near relatives of men killed in the war feel hurt that they are not allowed to visit the graves in Germany two years after the end of hostilities though others have been allowed to go there for one reason or another; and if he will now say that all obstacles to these visits will be removed forthwith.

This question has recently been reviewed, but owing largely to shortage of accommodation and travel facilities it is not at present possible to make general arrangements for visits to war cemeteries in the British zone of Germany. In these circumstances, it was felt that it would be unfair to offer facilities for any such visits until an equal opportunity can be given to all who wish to visit war graves.

Does not my right hon. Friend realise that his answer will cause great dissatisfaction to parents who are aware that other people have been allowed to go there and who fail to understand why, after two years, they should not be allowed to visit the graves, and cannot he reconsider this matter and grant facilities to those who want to go to Germany for this purpose?

If my hon. Friend will read in HANSARD my answer to Question No. 33, he will see what I am attempting to do in the way of arranging for these relatives to visit war cemeteries.

Will my right hon. Friend inform the House when he will be in a position to indicate when these facilities will be available?

In the answer to Question No. 33, I have indicated that I am now in consultation with voluntary societies to effect that purpose.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman believe that many bereaved people in this country, even though they themselves cannot visit their relatives' graves, would be proud if other people who could do so were allowed to go now?

The situation with regard to Germany is very difficult, and I can hold out no hope of visits to Germany this year.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that Americans are allowing ordinary tourists to visit their zone?

I am only asked about the British zone, and I can assure my hon. Friend that there are very great difficulties.

Even assuming that relatives cannot visit Germany, can the right hon. Gentleman say why they should not be permitted to visit other cemeteries?