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Germany (Dr Otto John)

Volume 531: debated on Monday 26 July 1954

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42.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what information he has concerning the disappearance in Berlin of Dr. Otto John, head of the German Office for Security of the German Constitution; and how far requests for diplomatic assistance have been made of the British representative in Germany by the German Federal Government.

Dr. Otto John left the hotel in West Berlin where he was staying on the evening of 20th July and went to the East Zone of Berlin. A statement purporting to have been recorded by him on 20th July was broadcast by the East German wireless on the evening of 24th July. The full facts are still not established and, in particular, the circumstances in which the broadcast was made are unknown.

The German Federal authorities are in touch with the Allied High Commission on the question of an approach to the Soviet authorities.

As it is stated in certain quarters in Germany that the appointment of Dr. John was apparently made on the recommendation of the United Kingdom Government of that time, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any vestige of truth in that allegation?

The appointment was, and is, a matter for the German authority although all three Western allies were, naturally, consulted at the time of his appointment in 1950; and the three Western allies raised no objection in view of his excellent anti-Nazi record.

Does the Foreign Secretary believe that there is any truth in the statement that Dr. John left West Germany because of the rise in power of the Nazis there now?

I find it impossible to comment on the information we have now got, and I should like to ask the House to show some restraint in this matter in these circumstances. A statement is being made this afternoon by the German Minister of the Interior, and in view of the responsibility which rests with him, I hope that the House will not wish to put any more questions until we hear what he has to say.