Washington (Mar. 22)
Representative of major Jewish organizations were among those who testified today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on behalf of the Celler Resolution calling for the appointment by President Roosevelt of a commission to work with the United Nations War Crimes Commission in preparation of “definite plans” for punishment of Axis war criminals.
Hard today were Herbert C. Pell, former U. S. delegate on the War Crimes Commission, Rep. Emanuel Celler, sponsor of the resolution, and spokesman for the American Jewish Conference, the American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Congress. Representing the American Jewish Conference at today’s hearing were Maurice Bisgyer and Dr. Alexander S. Kohanski. The American Jewish Congress was represented by Sol Gelb, chief assistant district attorney of New York county. Marcus Cohn of the American Jewish Committee filed its support of the resolution, stating that a statement would be forthcoming later. The Conference representatives offered the following detailed recommendations.
1. Crimes committed by the Axis nations and their associates against the Jewish people shall be duly specified in the indictment against the war criminals and made punishable in accordance with the policy announced by the United Nations.
2. Crimes committed against Jews in given territories shall be tried in their respective national courts, except those committed in Germany and in the territories of her satellites, which shall be tried in international courts.
3. The United Nations shall require the surrender of the criminals by the Axis nations or by other countries to which they may escape. Provision for surrender shall be included in the terms of armistice.
4. The national as well as international courts shall recognize Jewish representatives as amioi curiae. The Commission for Investigation of War Crimes, or a similar authority, shall give locus standi to a representation of the Jewish people.
Rep. Helen Gahagan Douglas, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, referred to the murder of four million Jews in Europe and asked Mr. Pell whether it would not be detrimental to world peace if these murderers were not punished. Mr. Pell replied that it would be “extremely detrimental” and that the Nazis would despise the democracies for evidence of inefficiency. Replying to a further question by Mrs. Douglas as to whether “the murder of these four million Jews is listed as a war crime,” Mr. Pall said it was not included in the list of the Hague conventions and “some lawyers, not the biggest ones, fear to make that elementary extension of law.” To a final question by Rep. Douglas as to whether “failure to punish the murderers of the Jews would not partially endorse the Nazi philosophy,” Mr. Pell replied, “it would endorse that part of the philosophy which says that democracy cannot take care of itself.”
The proposed commission, Rep. Celler said, would prevent the punishment of war criminals from remaining a “dark secret” and would also propose plans for punishment of war crimes regardless of whether they were committed against the subjects of Axis nations and within their borders.