740.00116 European War 1939/1419

The British Ambassador (Halifax) to the Secretary of State


On March 15th, 1944, His Majesty’s Ambassador addressed a note No. 153 to the Secretary of State putting forward, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, certain suggestions regarding the procedure to be followed in dealing with German war crimes against Italians, as there was no agreed procedure for dealing with information relating to such crimes which was likely to come into the hands of Allied Commanders, and as German crimes against Italians do not at present fall within the scope of the United Nations Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes.

His Majesty’s Embassy have now received a further telegram from the Foreign Office in which His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs reiterates the anxiety felt by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom to obtain early agreement in this matter. Such agreement is felt to be particularly urgent as it has recently been brought to the attention of the Foreign Office that [Page 1315] a copy of the Proceedings to Perpetuate Testimony concerning the alleged commission of war crimes by Lieutenant Lehmick Emden and Soldat Harold Thieke, German prisoners-of-war who were involved in the Caiazzo incident, and are now in the custody of the Allied Forces, has been transmitted by the Combined Chiefs of Staff to the State Department,44 for onward transmission to the United Nations War Crimes Commission “in accordance with paragraph 2 of Fan 260”.
It will be remembered that when the Caiazzo incident was under discussion, the Foreign Office put forward the view that this case did not properly speaking come within the competence of the United Nations War Crimes Commission (see paraphrase of telegram enclosed in Mr. Gore-Booth’s letters dated November 26th, 1943, to Mr. Green H. Hackworth and Mr. J. Wesley Jones of the Department of State45).
The Department of State expressed agreement with this view, and a draft directive to General Eisenhower agreed between the Department and His Majesty’s Embassy46 contained the following words:—

“It is also considered that the Caiazzo incident does not come within the competence of the United Nations War Crimes Commission since the victims were not United Nations nationals.”

This sentence was subsequently omitted at the request of the United States Chiefs of Staff. It is understood that the United States Chiefs did not disagree with the sentence in question, but that they considered its contents to fall outside the scope of the directive under consideration.
The Foreign Office are concerned that it should have been proposed to forward to the War Crimes Commission the information regarding the above-mentioned two German prisoners-of-war involved in the Caiazzo incident, as it is felt that this action tends to prejudge the issues raised by them and put before the Department of State in His Majesty’s note No. 153.
His Majesty’s Ambassador would accordingly be grateful if he might receive the Department of State’s views on the Foreign Office’s proposals at the earliest possible moment, in order that an agreed procedure may be adopted.
  1. War Department memorandum dated March 24, 1944, transmitted to the State Department the record of investigation proceedings, including testimony taken in January and February 1944, relating to the alleged commission of war crimes near Caiazzo, Italy, on or about October 13, 1943 (740.00116 European War/3–2444).
  2. Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 428.
  3. Not found in Department files.