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Allied Courts, Germany (Life Sentences)

Volume 654: debated on Wednesday 21 February 1962

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asked the Lord Privy Seal how many persons were given life sentences for crimes against humanity by allied courts in Germany; and, of those, how many have since been released.

I can only answer for tribunals for which there was British responsibility. Of the major war criminals who were given life sentences by the Nuremberg Tribunal, Raeder and Funk were released in 1956 and 1957, respectively, whereas Hess remains in Spandau Prison.

Twenty-four persons were sentenced to life imprisonment, for crimes against the laws and usages of war, by British military tribunals in the British Zone of Germany. None of these sentences is still being served. No person was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Control Commission—or Military Government—Courts in the British Zone which tried persons charged with crimes against humanity committed against Allied nationals.

But is it not not a fact that of the ninety-eight sentenced to life imprisonment at Nuremberg in 1949 not one remained in prison five years later, and is not the release and then the return to power of such men, by both the British and the Americans, a very dangerous price to pay for making West Germany our ally in the East-West struggle?

No. As for the ones Britain was responsible for at the Nuremberg trials, they were released by quadripartite agreement on health grounds. It was purely on this basis that agreement was made and those releases took place.