The British Chargé (Balfour) to the Secretary of State

His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires presents his compliments to the Secretary of State and has the honour to inform him that His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have now examined the question of utilising the German political and diplomatic archives under the joint control of the Foreign Office and the State Department, or in custody of British or American services or the Control Commission authorities in Germany.

His Majesty’s Government consider that selections from all documents may be used at the trials of alleged war criminals. As the United States Government has already agreed, through the Combined Intelligence Committee, that documents made available by the C.I.O.S. could be utilised, a large quantity of extracts from captured documents has already been processed in the Foreign Office and they are now on their way to the Quadripartite authorities responsible for prosecutions. His Majesty’s Government consider, and assume that the United States Government will agree, that the Foreign Office should retain discretion to determine which documents ought to be disclosed in evidence. This responsibility falls naturally on the Foreign Office inasmuch as it is being used as the repository of the evidence, and possessing, as it does, the most accessible collection of copies of the documents.
His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom propose that the Soviet and French Governments should be informed generally of the range of documents (including the microfilm of German Foreign Office archives for the period from 1933 to 1944, a copy of which is in the hands of the State Department) and that they should be offered access on a reciprocal basis to the collections on which British and United States investigators are now working exclusively. This offer, which should be made jointly or concurrently by the two governments, would contain the added condition, apart from reciprocity, that any of the four governments should retain discretion to disclose any documents over which they had rights of discovery or custody to any other Allied government that might ask for them, e.g. in connection with proceedings against its own quislings. His Majesty’s Government are particularly anxious to be able to communicate certain documents relating to Quisling87 to the Norwegian Government at the earliest possible moment, and the Norwegian Government, who have learned of the documents in the joint possession of British and American authorities, are pressing His Majesty’s Government for access to them in view of the imminent opening of Quisling’s trial.
His Majesty’s Government have also considered the question of publishing German political documents but they take the view that the formulation of a policy should await more complete knowledge of the contents of all documents in possession of the Allies.
  1. Vidkun Quisling, Minister-President of the puppet government set up by the Germans in Norway in 1940.