740.00116 EW/8–1546

The Judge Advocate General, United States Army ( Green ), to the Chairman of the United Nations War Crimes Commission ( Wright ), at London 99

My Dear Lord Wright: I hasten to reply to your letter of 8th July1 for which I am very grateful. The hasty conversations that were had with you during your visit here gave me the distinct impression that a survey on the spot was required with respect to the numerous problems confronting the prosecution of war criminals in the Far East. Accordingly, arrangements were effected to enable Colonel [Page 439] Marcus2 to proceed to Japan and elsewhere on 24th July, 1946. He has a copy of your letter and will attempt to develop your suggestions.

I wish to outline the organisation in the field for the prosecution of war crimes under the jurisdiction of General MacArthur as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. There is a unit of his Special Staff known as the Legal Section, the one you visited, of which Colonel Alva C. Carpenter is Chief. He has established a branch at Manila. By directive of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, 23rd April, 1946, thereafter ratified by the Far Eastern Commission, any other country whose nationals were victims of atrocities were given the right to assist in prosecuting cases involving such atrocities by providing members for the military commissions trying the cases and also members of the prosecution staff. To date, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, and the Netherlands have availed themselves of this right, and now have liaison detachments working with the Legal Section. It would appear, therefore, that centralisation in one office of the work of all nations concerned has been started.

By directive of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the primary responsibility for the trial of war crimes cases in the India-Burma Theatres rests with the Government of India and with the South Asia Command. American participation has been limited to assisting by furnishing members for commissions and prosecution staffs in cases in which U.S. nationals are involved. The U.S. officers participating have been ordered to War Crimes Branch in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of preparing complete reports for use here and for your Commission.

Similarly in China, by Joint Chiefs of Staff directive, primary responsibility rests with the Chinese Central Government. The United States Forces have a War Crimes Branch there, which to date is proceeding with the prosecution of fourteen cases involving offences committed against U.S. Forces and nationals. Before the U.S. Commander can proceed in any case in China, the acquiescence of the Chinese Government is required, together with specific authority from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The War Crimes Branch has general supervision over the work in the Overseas Theatres. A deputy Chief for Navy and a small staff of Navy personnel are part of the Branch. The U.S. Navy has been carrying out a war crimes programme in the Mid-Pacific Area. It has liaison with War Crimes Branch through the Naval section of the Branch, and reports on Navy cases in Mid-Pacific. Problems arising in connection with these cases are referred to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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A directive prepared by War Crimes Branch, has recently been sent to the Theatres by the War Department requiring a monthly progress report on cases; standardized reports on cases by name going to trial; trials completed; and other pertinent data (Order enclosed).3 Complete transcripts of the records of all cases are to be furnished the War Crimes Branch by the Theatres as quickly as they can be prepared after completion of trials. All of this information will be furnished to the United Nations War Crimes Commission as quickly as it is received by War Crimes Branch. A summary of results achieved in Japan and the Philippines to 24th May, 1946, is attached.3

I trust that this information which I pass to you will give you a picture of the war crimes programme in the Far East. Colonel Robert M. Springer, Executive of the War Crimes Branch, has been appointed by President Truman as U.S. Commissioner to the United Nations War Crimes Commission. When he arrives in London I feel confident he can answer some of the questions.

With kindest regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

Thomas H. Green

Major-General, USA
  1. Copy transmitted as Doc. C. 220, August 14, of the United Nations War Crimes Commission in covering despatch 525, August 15, from the U.S. Commissioner, Col. Robert M. Springer, U.S. Army; received August 28. Colonel Springer had just assumed this post.
  2. Not printed (Doc. C. 211, July 16).
  3. Col. David Marcus, U.S. Army, Chief of the War Crimes Branch, Civil Affairs Division (CAD), War Department.
  4. Not attached to file copy of this document.
  5. Not attached to file copy of this document.