The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Spain (Armour)
733. Your 938 May 4. Although we would much prefer the procedure suggested in Department’s 728, May 3, we would be willing, if [Page 713]this proves impracticable, to accept procedure outlined in your 924, May 3, under which Laval and party would be turned over to the British at Gibraltar for eventual handing over to the French.
For your information we think it desirable to play down the United Nations aspect of the matters since the question of whether nationals of Allied countries should be listed as war criminals to be tried by the United Nations has never been clarified. As indicated in Department’s previous telegram Laval is apparently not now listed as a war criminal by the United Nations War Crimes Commission for the reason that up to the present these lists have been confined to nationals of enemy countries. The French would almost certainly prefer to deal with their own nationals in accordance with French law rather than have them dealt with by an international tribunal, and in view of Laval’s trial and conviction in absentia by a French court his early delivery to French justice would appear the best solution from every angle.
We appreciate, however, that the important thing is to obtain his removal from Spain at the earliest possible moment and if it is impossible to obtain his direct delivery to the French, we are prepared to support any proposal along the lines you suggest which will accomplish the purpose of placing him under French or British control and which has the approval of your French and British colleagues.
Sent to Madrid as 733, repeated to Paris as 1866, and London as 3513.