U.S. Says Statute of Limitations on War Crimes is Matter for Germans to Decide

The State Department, speaking on behalf of President Johnson, said today that the United States considers the extension of the statute of limitations on Nazi war crimes to be a matter “for the German authorities to decide themselves.” William B. Macomber, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State, wrote Sen. Hugh Scott, Pennsylvania Republican, in reply to a request made by the senator to the President to urge that the United States ask Bonn to continue the prosecution of Nazi criminals. The statute of limitations expires on December 31, 1969. Criminals would be free to come out of hiding after that date without fear of prosecution.

Mr. Macomber said that “although we consider this matter one for the German authorities to decide for themselves, I can assure you that our Embassy in Bonn takes every suitable occasion to express our continuing interest in this question.” The State Department official said “I am certain that the Federal German authorities remain conscious of foreign and, for that matter, German interest in bringing Nazi criminals to justice. On November 3 of last year, the Federal German Minister of Justice, Dr. Heinemann, stated to the press that he considered it possible that the statute of limitations for serious Nazi crimes, i.e., murder and genocide, might be extended. He stated, as his personal opinion, that the statute of limitations for these crimes should be abolished. He added that the question is presently under study by German parliamentary groups, and that no final understanding has been reached within the German Federal Government.”

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