740.00116 European War 1939/754: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom ( Matthews ) to the Secretary of State

604. Embassy’s despatch No. 6393, November 212 and previous. In bringing me up-to-date on the question of the investigation of war criminals, the Foreign Office tells me that considerable progress has been made in British discussions with the Russians and that they expect shortly that the Soviet will formally agree to accept membership on the Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes. The Chinese, I am told, have already accepted though they may raise a “delicate point” by asking that the scope of the Commission’s activities be made retroactive to cover the Manchurian incident of 1931.3

While it has not wished in the interim to have further conversations with us on this subject for fear of arousing additional Russian suspicions, the Foreign Office will, as soon as Russian agreement has been received, wish to talk over with us questions concerning the practical establishment and operation of the Commission, i.e., where it shall have its principal seat, who shall be the president, the scope of its activities, etc. Roberts4 informally mentioned the desirability of having the principal Commission sit in London as nearer to the “scene of the crimes” than the United States, possibly under an American president. He emphasized, however, that the British have no fixed views on the subject. (He did tell me in confidence that the British representative has been selected, namely Sir Cecil Hurst, Judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice at the Hague.

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The Department may wish to transmit to the Embassy for its information and guidance its views with regard to the Commission. I gather there is some impatience in London that the Commission has not already been set up.)

  1. Not printed; it enclosed the note of November 18, 1942, from the First Secretary of the British Foreign Office, printed ibid., 1942, vol. i, p. 63.
  2. See ibid., 1931, vol. iii, pp. 1 ff.
  3. F. K. Roberts, First Secretary of the British Foreign Office.