The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Halifax)


The Secretary of State presents his compliments to the British Ambassador and refers to the aide-mémoires of August 692 and August 20, 1945, conveying the views of the British Government with respect to the use to be made of the German archives taken at Marburg by forces under the command of the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Forces.

The Department of State is in complete agreement that all the useful material from the German archives should be made available to the authorities responsible for the prosecution of war crimes but believes, however, that documents in the joint possession of United States and British authorities might profitably be examined by both the United States and British Chiefs of Counsel for the prosecution on the understanding that all materials having a political implication would be considered jointly. The Department of State has consulted Justice Jackson and is advised that he will consult the British prosecutor respecting the particular captured German documents to be offered in evidence at the forthcoming Nuremberg trials. Justice Jackson has also advised the Department of State that where a delicate case arises, he will, if there is time, consult the Department before using the document. Justice Jackson is of the opinion that this matter is not likely to cause difficulties, but as an additional safeguard in the case of the documents referred to in paragraph 4 below, the Department is requesting him not to use any documents to which his British colleague makes objection without prior consultation with the Department of State.
The United States Government submitted to the European Advisory Commission a draft directive which reads in part as follows: “You will take all necessary measures to make available for the purpose either of the prosecution of the war in other theatres or of military government, or for the needs of other United Nations agencies, [Page 1121] the archives, records and documents…93 (taken in Germany) as may be useful for those purposes.” The Department of State, therefore, agrees that all papers from the Marburg files appropriate to the trial of Quisling should be made available to the Norwegian Government and that the Soviet and French Governments should be informed generally of the range of documents in joint possession of the United States and British Governments and that they should be offered access to such documents as are relevant to their trial interests on a reciprocal basis and on the further condition that the governments in possession of given documents should retain discretion to disclose them to any other Allied Government that might ask for them.
The Department of State appreciates the reasons which prompt the British Government to wish to restrict the circulation of certain documents referring to the Duke of Windsor’s passage through Spain and Portugal in the summer of 1940,94 but cannot discount the importance, for the history of the war, of the German and Spanish maneuvers for a negotiated peace at that time. This Department therefore believes that the safeguards concerning the Marburg collection, suggested in paragraph 2 above, would in large measure forestall any publication to which the British Government might object. A preliminary investigation, furthermore, suggests that it would be unlawful for the Secretary of State to authorize the delivery of the documents to the British Government or the destruction of the passages in question, without Congressional authorization and attendant publicity. The British Government is assured, however, that the Department of State will take all possible precautions to prevent any publicity with respect to the documents in its possession relative to the Duke of Windsor without prior consultation with the British Government.
  1. Aide-mémoire of August 6 not printed.
  2. Omission indicated in the original aide-mémoire.
  3. For documentation on this subject from the German archives, see Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, series D, vol. x, documents listed in Analytical List of Documents under Great Britain, pp. xxiv-xxvi.