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Awards To Herr Krupp

Volume 178: debated on Wednesday 15 October 1952

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4.27 p.m.

My Lords, the second statement is concerned with the case of Herr Krupp. Alfried Krupp is the son of Gustav Krupp, who was arraigned as a major war criminal by the International War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg, but found unfit to plead. He succeeded his father as head of Krupps at the end of 1943. Alfried Krupp, together with a number of other industrialists in the British Zone, was handed over towards the end of 1946, by the authority of the late Government, to the United States authorities for trial in the American Zonal War Crimes Court. He was tried and convicted in 1948 of having employed slave labour and of having plundered occupied territories. He was sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment and to confiscation of all his property. On the other hand, he was acquitted on charges of crimes against peace, and of conspiracy.

In January, 1951, the American High Commissioner reviewed the sentences imposed by this American Court. He decided to reduce Krupp's prison sentence to the six years already served and to revoke the confiscation of his property. As Mr. Attlee, the then Prime Minister, said in his statement in another place on February 12, 1951, the review of Krupp's sentence was entirely a matter for the American High Commissioner, who was under no obligation to consult His Majesty's Government. In reviewing Krupp's sentence, the American High Commissioner found that this was the only case in which a war criminal had been sentenced to forfeiture of property (this was not done even in the case of Goering and Ribbentrop). He felt that confiscation in this instance was not justified by any special considerations attaching to Krupp.

Under an Allied High Commission law of May, 1950, approved by His late Majesty's Government, the French and the United States Governments, the whole German coal and steel industry was to be reorganised so as to break up excessive concentrations of economic power. Under that law, the Krupp coal and steel complex is being broken up into independent units; and an Order is to be issued under which Krupp will be compelled to sell his securities in the coal and steel companies. No provision was made under that law by which Krupp's holdings in these companies could be confiscated, either in whole or in part. On the contrary, in view of the decision to revoke the confiscation of Krupp's property, the effect of this law was to provide him with compensation for all his holdings. No reliable estimate can yet be formed of the amount which the sale of Krupp's securities will realise, but it will run into many millions. Needless to say this money will be drawn entirely from German sources.

So much for the past. As to the future, we are seeking to ensure that Krupp shall not be allowed to use the proceeds of the sale of his holdings to buy his way back into the coal and steel industries or otherwise to acquire a controlling interest. The means of achieving this end are under discussion in Germany between the High Commission and the Federal Government.

4.29 p.m.

My Lords, in again thanking the noble Marquess for making this statement to your Lordships' House I would say, as is generally known, that this is a matter of very great controversy. I am not going to raise the controversy here to-day, but it may give rise to a debate at a later date. I have no objection at all to a debate on this subject being raised, and will certainly consider the matter in the light of this statement. Having done so, we on this side shall then decide as to whether a debate is necessary.

Would the noble Marquess accept a suggestion—namely, that our Chargé d'Affaires in Teheran should be asked to draw the attention of Dr. Mossadeq to the treatment of Herr Krupp and his interests?

I do not think the noble Lord expected me to accept that suggestion, and I do not.

Although the present Government are not responsible, can the noble Marquess say for what reason Herr Krupp was handed over by the British High Commissioner to the American High Commissioner?

No, my Lords, I am not in a position to say that. It was done, but I am bound to say that I have been unable to find out what was the reason for doing it. He was, I think, resident in our zone, but for some reason at the time he was handed over for trial by the American authorities.

May I ask the noble Marquess if he is in a position to say anything about the plunder in respect of which Herr Krupp was found guilty. Is it not likely that the forfeiture of his estate was the consequence of the acquisition of the plunder, which is rather different from the case of Goering? Is not that a matter upon which we might have some information?

I am afraid that I do not follow at this stage the point of the noble Lord's question. The American High Commissioner has reversed the original decision that Herr Krupp's property should be confiscated. What does it matter now to discuss whether that property included loot or anything else? There is no order for confiscation.

It is, of course, a matter in which we might have some interest. And I suggest that it does arise from the question of the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, with regard to the handing over of this case to the Americans.

I do not think I can follow what is in the noble Lord's mind at all.