740.00116 European War 1939/7–644

The First Secretary of the British Embassy (Gore-Booth) to the Legal Adviser (Hackworth)

Ref: 152/66/44

Dear Mr. Hackworth: I enclose herewith a paraphrase of a telegram we have just received from London about a further possible declaration on the subject of the punishment of war criminals, which is being advocated by the French Committee of National Liberation.

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As you will see, His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom are not in favour of making a further statement on this matter at the present time, and in any case do not think the United Nations War Crimes Commission would be the proper channel for such a declaration.

I should be grateful if you would let me know whether you agree with the Foreign Office views, and if so whether I may tell them that you will be replying on similar lines to the French Committee.

Yours sincerely,

P. H. Gore-Booth

Paraphrase of Telegram from Foreign Office, London, Dated July 1st

H. M. Ambassador Algiers has received from the French Committee of National Liberation a note, dated June 6th, proposing the issue by the Allied Governments of a joint declaration reaffirming their intention to enforce suitable punishment against Germans perpetrating atrocities, in particular mass massacre, the execution of hostages and systematic under-feeding of the population in the occupied countries. The note refers to statements made by President Roosevelt on March 24th, and by myself on March 30th, on the subject of outrages against Jews and other victims of persecution at the hands of Germany and her Satellites. It also mentions declaration on German atrocities issued by the Moscow Conference. It states however that declarations hitherto made do not appear to have any deterrent effect, and suggests that only energetic collective action is likely to achieve results. The Committee propose that if the issue of a further joint declaration is agreed in principle, the drafting of a suitable text should be entrusted to the United Nations War Crimes Commission, and that the Governments which have hitherto not participated in the Commission’s work should be especially represented upon Commission for this purpose.

My view is that there is nothing that could usefully be added at the present time to the earlier declarations on this subject, and in particular to Moscow Declaration, and that an intensification of German atrocities, as their forces of occupation withdraw, is likely to be prevented as effectively by continued reiteration in our propaganda of that Declaration, and principles enshrined in it, as by the issue of any new declaration. I am, moreover, opposed in principle to encouraging the United Nations War Crimes Commission to draft statements of this nature on behalf of the Allied Governments.
I accordingly propose to instruct Mr. Duff Cooper19 to reply to the French Committee on the lines of the first sentence of paragraph [Page 1236] 2 above. I understand the Committee have addressed a similar note to the U.S. representative at Algiers and probably also to all other United Nations representatives. Before replying therefore we should like to concert our answer with the U.S. Government. Please ask State Department whether their view coincides with ours and if so whether they would be willing to reply on similar lines to French Committee.
  1. Alfred Duff Cooper, British representative with the French Committee of National Liberation.