Washington (Jan. 29)
Acting Secretary of State Joseph C. Grew at his press conference today side-stepped questions on the failure to return Herbert C. Pell to London as U.S. representative to the United Nations War Crime Commission, but said that new appropriations will be sought from Congress and that every effort will be made to carry on the work of the Commission.
Asked about Pell’s charge that the State Department was dissatisfied with his demand that the Germans be punished for crimes committed against German Jews, the Acting Secretary said:
“A considerable amount of speculation has been broadcast and published regarding this Government’s position on this subject. Our position has been repeatedly stated by the president and the Secretary of State, It is unchanged today. It is the policy of this Government to see to it that the Axis leaders and their henchmen who have been guilty of war crimes and atrocities shall be brought to the bar of justice. We, in this Government, know our minds on this subject. We have a definite program. It is a program which, I assure you, is comprehensive and forthright”.
From an absolutely unimpeachable source the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today that John W. Pehle, former director of the War Refugee Board whose resignation was made public yesterday, has for months been vainly urging that the war crimes committed by the Axis powers against their own nationals, such as the torture and murder of German, Hungarian and Bulgarian Jews, be placed on the agenda of the United Nations War Crime Commission.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency was also informed by the same source that neither Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius nor War Secretary Henry L. Stimson, has ever made any statement opposing the punishment of war crimes committed by Axis governments against their Jewish nationals, but opposition to such punitive action has been more or less openly expressed by subordinates in both the State and War Departments.
Specifically, the State Department’s delay in acting on this situation is attributed to two possible cause: first, that a more efficient organization than the present War Crimes Commission is needed; second, a lack of interest in acting. Feeling has grown among informed persons in Washington that a thorough overhaul of the War Crimes Commission is now imperative, reducing the representation on it from 15 nations to the 4 main powers, Britain, U.S.A., France and Russia.
Refusal by the Allied powers to consider the murder of Jews as a war crime is serving as a spur to the Germans in their campaign of extermination, it was charged today at a press conference here by the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation. It was announced at the conference that the Committee plans to run the British blocade of Palestine and smuggle in every Jew from Europe that it can get across the borders.