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German Participation (Ex-Nazis)

Volume 526: debated on Monday 12 April 1954

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12 and 13.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) if he will give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will not agree to, or support, German rearmament or their participation in the European Defence Community, until such time as the Bonn Government have removed from office Waldemar Kraft, Minister without Portfolio, and Emmanuel Preusker, Housing Minister, both of whom were in the blackshirted Allgemeine S.S. elite, which originated as Hitler's personal bodyguard, and Herr Theodor Oberlander, Minister for Expelled Persons, who joined the Nazis in 1933, receiving an honorary rank equivalent to that of captain in the Nazi Storm Troops and later became Reichsfuehrer of the Nazi organisation called the Federation of the German East;

(2) if he will give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will oppose German rearmament or any contribution from Germany in the European Defence Community until such time as the West German Government dismiss from office Gerhard Schroeder, Interior Minister in Bonn, who joined the Nazi Party in 1933.

Am I to take it that the Foreign Office has no objection to these Nazis occupying high positions, and to the rearming of Germany being under the control of ex-Nazis who were top leaders of Hitler's Stormtroops? Is this matter receiving any attention from the Foreign Office?

The bon. Member may read anything he likes into my answer. The facts are that Herr Kraft and Herr Oberlander were both placed in the exonerated category by the denazification tribunal set up under allied legislation. It is untrue that Herr Preusker ever received a certificate of honour for anti-semitic practices. He was, in fact, able to produce evidence of assistance given by him to Jews during the Nazi régime. Dr. Schroeder was dismissed from the Nazi Party in 1941 for marrying a woman of Jewish origin, and was later connected with an anti-Nazi group.

Is the hon. Member aware that Herr Preusker, the Minister for Housing, is strongly in favour of making the German workers pay higher rents, and that in this respect he draws his inspiration not only from the Nazis but from Her Majesty's Government?

Is the hon. Member aware that the spirit of his answer to Question No. 13 is incorrect? Is he aware that high Nazi officials—military officers as well as diplomatic—are back in office in Western Germany, and that the tolerance of Her Majesty's Government in these affairs has resulted in splitting the Allied Powers into two?

The appointment of these Ministers and officials is a matter for the German Federal Government. Neither Her Majesty's present advisers nor the late Government saw fit to interfere in these matters, so far as I am aware. As to the officials to whom the hon. Lady refers, I do not know the names involved. I have answered the two Questions on the Order Paper. Those Ministers and, so far as I am aware, all other Ministers appointed have, if necessary, been passed through the requisite tests under the denazification procedure.

Are we to take it that the view of the Foreign Office is that under no circumstances should anyone who was a former Nazi hold a high and controlling position, particularly in the forthcoming German contingent to the European Army? Will the hon. Gentleman say, quite categorically, that Her Majesty's Government would view with great alarm the appointment of these former Nazis to high positions?

I think the Government's position and, indeed, the position of the House, regarding a revival of Nazism is very clear. The Government regard the best guarantee against a revival of Nazism the formation at the earliest possible moment of the European Defence Community.

Would the hon. Gentleman make representations to Russia to observe the same policy in East Germany about Nazis?