740.00116 E.W./9–1244

The British Ambassador (Halifax) to the Secretary of State

No. 574

His Majesty’s Ambassador presents his compliments to the Secretary of State and has the honour to refer to the Department of State’s confidential memorandum of August 24th, 1944 on the subject of the refusal of asylum in neutral countries to Axis leaders and their accomplices.

His Majesty’s Ambassador has the honour to state that the substance of the Department’s memorandum and its enclosure was duly communicated to the Foreign Office who immediately issued instructions to His Majesty’s Representatives at Berne, Lisbon, Madrid and Stockholm to support their United States colleagues’ representations to the governments to which they were accredited. When informing [Page 1424] this Embassy of the issue of these instructions, the Foreign Office added that urgent consideration was being given by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom to the question of the early issue of a joint public Anglo-American-Soviet declaration warning neutral countries against giving asylum to war criminals.
His Majesty’s Government have not failed to recall that the views of the three Governments were made known to the world in connexion with the action taken by them vis-à-vis neutral Governments in July 1943 and the declaration made on July 30th 1943 by the President of the United States. These expressions of view were, however, made more particularly in connexion with developments in Italy, and His Majesty’s Government now consider that a stage of the war has been reached when it is opportune and indeed essential that it should be made clear to all neutral countries in an authoritative pronouncement at the highest level that they are expected to refuse asylum to all those Nazi leaders, war criminals and their accomplices in other countries whom it is the Allies’ intention to bring to justice. His Majesty’s Government therefore propose that a joint declaration should be issued by the three major Allies at a very early date, and have prepared a draft of such a declaration of which a copy is enclosed for the consideration of the United States Government. His Majesty’s Government consider that this course is preferable to another joint approach through diplomatic channels to neutral countries, such as was made with regard to Italian war criminals in July 1943, since it solves the difficulty that the Soviet Government are not represented with the majority of the neutral Governments, avoids giving the latter any opportunity to retort with legal arguments and secures the maximum authority and publicity for the statement.
The Earl of Halifax, whilst communicating the enclosed draft declaration to Mr. Cordell Hull, is instructed by His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to ask that he may be informed speedily of the views of the United States Government on this matter, and has the honour to add that a similar and simultaneous approach is being made to the Soviet Government.

Draft Declaration

The Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States and the U.S.S.R.

Conscious of the responsibility which rests upon them for restoring through the victory of the United Nations the rule of justice throughout the world;
Believing that the due punishment of war crimes and offences is an essential step to that end;
Recalling the grievous suffering caused to great numbers of innocent people by reason of the present war and by crimes against law and humanity committed during the course of it by the leaders of enemy nations, their subordinates and also by their accomplices in other countries;
Being resolved that the persons responsible for causing that suffering shall not escape retribution wherever they may be; and believing that no neutral countries would wish to afford them assistance in so doing;
Considering that, after the victory of the United Nations, the neutral countries also will have their contribution to make towards the restoration of the rule of justice throughout the world and are no less concerned than the parties to the present declaration to secure that war criminals should not escape justice and that war crimes should be punished;
Call upon all neutral countries to refuse asylum to persons fleeing from the consequences of their crimes, whose object, or probable object, in seeking asylum is to avoid falling into the hands of the United Nations or who seek it in consequence or in anticipation of defeat of their country or of its occupation by the Forces of the United Nations;
And declare that they will regard any shelter, assistance and protection given such persons as a violation of the principles for which they are fighting.