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U.S. Will Not Intervene with Germany on Statute of Limitations Issue

The State Department considers it “unnecessary and undesirable” for the United States to intervene through diplomatic channels to urge West Germany to extend the statute of limitations for trial of Nazi war criminals beyond its present expiration date of May 8.

Robert E. Lee, acting Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, made known the Department’s views in a letter written on behalf of Secretary of State Dean Rusk. It was addressed to Rep. Leonard Farbstein, New York Democrat, who had urged the Department to use its good offices at Bonn on the Nazi criminal question.

Mr. Lee said “it seems unnecessary and undesirable to interfere with the German Government’s effort to work its way through to a solution satisfactory in both legal and policy terms.”

He pointed out that “since sovereignty was returned to the German Government in May 1955, we have on a number of occasions made known to the Federal Republic our strong belief that these trials should be pursued. Now the German Bundestag has formally initiated the process of reconsideration of the statute of limitations problem.”

According to the State Department official, “the German Federal Government is acutely aware of the deep moral debt of Germany to its past, and it has made a conscientious effort to find, try, and convict Nazi criminals.”

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