740.00116 E.W./1–2645: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

920. For Deputy Commissioner Hodgson.48 The Department assumes that you have seen my statement to the press of February 149 regarding the punishment of war criminals (your 921 of January 2650). In view of the confusion and misinformation that have resulted from speculation and unauthorized statements regarding the work of the Commission and the attitude of different members, the Department considers that regularization of the release of information by the Commission, confined to the limits of my statement and indicating that action is being taken to effectuate the objectives stated [Page 1152] by the President and summarized by me, would be desirable. Discussion of the juridical theory on which we are to proceed should be postponed, since this matter is not yet settled. The publication of lists of war criminals other than those whose names are now well known to the public might well tend to defeat the purposes of the United Nations by enabling such persons to cover their tracks in one way or another. Consequently, such lists should not be published, but every effort should be made to avoid the impression that the Commission is operating mysteriously.

You should avoid the giving of any impression that you are holding back or in anywise endeavoring to stifle the release of legitimate information.

  1. Herbert C. Pell was United States representative on the United Nations War Crimes Commission from 1943 to 1945. When Congress failed to appropriate the necessary funds for his continued appointment, Lt. Col. Joseph V. Hodgson took his place.
  2. Department of State Bulletin, February 4, 1945, p. 154.
  3. In this telegram Hodgson reported that the majority of the members of the Commission were of the opinion that the work of the Commission should be publicized; they also expressed a “strong desire to revise present policy which they believe has resulted in criticism of the Commission and its members and impaired its usefulness.” (740.00116 E.W./1–2645)