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Naval Forces, Baltic (Nato Commander)

Volume 654: debated on Wednesday 21 February 1962

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asked the Lord Privy Seal why the British representative on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation agreed to the appointment of Rear-Admiral Gerhard Wagner as commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation naval forces in the Baltic.

Appointments of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation subordinate commanders are made by the Supreme Allied Commanders in consultation with the Governments whose forces are concerned. As there are no British Naval forces in the Baltic, the question of British agreement to Admiral Wagner's appointment did not arise.

Then I do not know how I got the Question on the Order Paper. Does the Lord Privy Seal really believe that the man who was arrested by British troops in 1945 as Hitler's U-Boat Chief of Staff, who helped to sink many British ships, and who at the Doenitz war crimes trial admitted that neutral ships had been sunk without warning where this was of political value to Germany—and others like him—should be appointed to such key positions?

I have explained our responsibility as far as this appointment is concerned. It is not the responsibility of the Supreme Commander to consult us in this matter. It is not my duty to question how Questions get on to the Order Paper. This commander is himself subordinate to a Danish commander and the Danish commander is in turn subordinate to a British commander who is the Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces, Northern Europe.