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Captured State Documents (Publication)

Volume 446: debated on Wednesday 28 January 1948

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the Government are in possession of copies of the captured documents dealing with relations between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia which have recently been published by the American State Department; and if it is his intention to make these available to the British public.

These documents are in the possession of His Majesty's Government, and certain of them have already appeared in the British Press. Our policy in regard to captured German archives was explained by my hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary, on 22nd January, 1947. His Majesty's Government are considering whether any useful purpose would be served by issuing these documents separately at an early date.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these documents are of great interest to the British public, and that their publication would be useful in influencing public opinion?

I am not necessarily disagreeing with my hon. Friend, but our policy on this subject has been to try to employ impartial historians of repute, so that when publication takes place, it will carry even more weight than haphazard selections, which may be thought to have some partiality attaching to them.

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that if publication takes place, it will not be for propaganda purposes?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have been pressing for the publication of secret documents from our own archives, especially those relating to the proposed attacks on Russian oilfields in March, 1940? Will he consider publishing these documents?

I cannot accept the imputation. The question does not, of course, arise, because we are speaking here of the disposal of captured archives.