840.48 Refugees/6377: Airgram

The Chargé at Algiers (Chapin) to the Secretary of State

A–178. My telegram 868, March 17, 3 p.m.13 I have received a note dated June 6 from Massigli14 stating that the FCNL, as stated in Massigli’s communication of March 13, expressed itself as fully in accord with the views of President Roosevelt regarding measures to be taken immediately to afford the greatest possible protection to victims of persecution in German occupied territory; that in the same general connection the Committee noted with satisfaction the President’s statements of March 24 expressing the intention of the American Government to punish the authors of crimes committed during the occupation as well as their accomplices and instruments; that because of concern over information received from France which gives reason to fear the extension of such acts, the FCNL likewise feels that the United Nations should, by all the means at their disposal, endeavor to forestall the criminal actions of Nazi leaders and of police elements under their authority; that it must be recognized that the statements previously made have not yielded the results which might have been expected; that, after studying different aspects of the problem, the Committee has reached the conclusion that collective and unusually energetic action is essential; and that there is therefore enclosed a memorandum which is submitted for the consideration of the U. S. Government.

The following is a summary of the enclosed memorandum:

The extent of mass executions by the Germans in several occupied countries causes apprehension that there exists a systematic plan to decimate the population of such countries and that the plan is already being carried out. Information, which while not subject to absolute proof must yet be taken into consideration, gives reason to believe that the Nazis envisage under certain circumstances the massacre of hostages. When they realize that defeat is imminent the Nazi leaders might well endeavor to provoke such massacres, either to prevent popular uprisings or to endeavor by frightful threats to place themselves in safety from eventual punishment. It is not even excluded that some of them consider the future interest that Germany would have in assuring by these barbarous acts its demographic superiority in Europe. In that regard indirect means such as the systematic undernourishment of prisoners and deportees would yield the same result.

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The statement of March 24 by the President of the U.S. and that which followed by the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,14a coming after the resolution adopted November 1, 1943 at Moscow,15 prove that the seriousness of these threats has not escaped the attention of the American, Soviet and British Governments. The intention thereby affirmed to punish severely those guilty of such crimes, those who ordered them as well as their accomplices and instruments, will be received with satisfaction by the populations being menaced. For its part the Soviet Government has demonstrated by its actions its intention of prosecuting Germans who committed atrocities. The usefulness of a solemn and carefully drafted warning to Germany remains no less evident. Present experience in fact shows that to intimidate men who entered the German police force and deliberately agreed to fulfill the criminal tasks assigned to them, there is need for something stronger than general statements such as those which on frequent occasions have up to now been made. In the opinion of the FCNL the warning to be given Germany should, in order to be effective:

Affirm in the name of the United Nations the determination to apply punishments proportional to the extent of the crimes committed and to strike, as has been indicated by President Roosevelt, the instruments as well as the authors, and in a general way the political, administrative, police and military authorities within whose jurisdiction the crimes have been committed.
To make equal provision for the crime, which is no less serious although more subtle, represented by the systematic determination to undernourish prisoners, laborers and deportees.
To avoid including in the same threats the mass of the German people and its leaders. At the point which the war has reached it is to the interest of the Allies to disrupt the moral unity of the German people. In that connection, it might be opportune to induce the latter to separate from its leaders by refusing all participation in the crimes which we intend to prevent and by placing it on guard against the responsibility which would be assumed by all persons associated in any manner whatsoever with these crimes.
To give the communication destined to the German Government a particularly solemn character it would be appropriate to transmit it by a neutral diplomatic channel and to give it the most extensive publicity. It is, in fact, necessary that by all means at the disposal of the United Nations the repercussions of the warning which is to be given Germany be prolonged and severe in order that the German people itself shall not be in ignorance of it.

Such are the proposals which the FCNL submits for the approval of the United Nations governments. If the principle is accepted the drafting of the text might be confided to the Interallied Committee [Page 1234] for Suppression of Crimes of War on which, for the occasion, there might be represented those governments which up to now have not seen fit to participate in its work.

Copy to London.

  1. Not printed.
  2. René Massigli, Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, French Committee of National Liberation; note not printed.
  3. Statement made by Anthony Eden in the House of Commons on March 30, Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons. 5th series, vol. 398, col. 1562.
  4. Declaration of German Atrocities; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 768.