The British Embassy to the Department of State
telegram from mr. balfour to mr. barclay, london, december 2nd, 1918
“It is very important that the following communication shall reach the President and Mr. Lansing before departure.
At a Conference of the Governments of France, Great Britain and Italy held in London this morning the three Governments agreed to recommend that a demand ought to be presented to Holland for the surrender of the person of the Kaiser for trial, by an International Court to be appointed by the Allies, on the charge of being the criminal mainly responsible for the war and breaches of International Law by the forces of Germany by land, sea and air.
During its deliberations the Conference had before it the opinion of a Committee of nine of the most eminent Jurists of the British Isles, who recommended unanimously that the Kaiser and his principal accomplices should be brought to trial before a Court consisting of nominees of the principal nations victorious in the war.
In coming to the conclusion set forth above the Conference were influenced by the following principal considerations.
- That justice requires that the Kaiser and his principal accomplices who designed and caused the war with its malignant purpose or, who were responsible for incalculable sufferings inflicted on the human race during the war, should be brought to trial and punished for their crimes.
- That certain inevitable personal punishment for crimes against humanity and international right will be a very important security against future attempts to make war wrongfully or to violate International Law and is a necessary stage in the development of the authority of a League of Nations.
- That it will be impossible to bring to justice lesser criminals, such as those who have oppressed the French and Belgians and other peoples, committed murder on the high seas, and maltreated prisoners of war, if the arch-criminal, who for 30 years has proclaimed himself the sole arbiter of German policy and has been so in fact, escapes condign punishment.
- That the Court, by which the question of responsibility for the war and its grosser barbarities should be determined, ought to be appointed by those nations who have played a principal part in winning the war and have thereby shown their understanding of what freedom means and their readiness to make unlimited sacrifices in its behalf. This clause is intended to relate only to the composition of the Court which will deal with the crimes committed in connection with the late war and is not intended to prejudice the question of the composition of the International Courts under a League of Nations.
The Conference hopes that the Government of the United States will share its views and cooperate with the Allies in the presentation to Holland of a demand for the surrender of the persons of the ex-Kaiser and of the Crown Prince for trial before an International Court to be appointed by the Allies.”