Tolstoy Nikolai - Victims of Yalta

Author : Tolstoy Nikolai (Tolstoï-Miloslavski Nikolaï Dmitrievitch)
Title : Victims of Yalta
Year : 1977

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Preface to the Corgi edition. Victims of Yalta was first published on 6 February 1978. Since that time widespread concern at its revelations has been expressed by the public, press and broadcasting media. Questions have been asked in Parliament, and the Foreign Secretary has received requests for a public enquiry. On 20 February a long leading article appeared in The Times, recapitulating the charges laid at the Foreign Office’s door, and stressing the urgent need for some sort of national reparation: British officials stand accused of giving wrong advice, promoting wrong policies and causing the deaths of many innocent people. They should … present Parliament and public with their versions of forcible repatriation … Mr Harold Macmillan, as Minister of State for the Mediterranean theatre in 1944–45, should lend his great authority to the process of disclosure by telling all he knows … The defence, if defence there be, has yet to be heard. Two days later the Foreign Secretary rejected the call for a public enquiry, on the grounds that such a move might set an awkward precedent when further classified archives are made available under the 30-year ruling. He added, however, that ‘The inquiry and the scrutiny is one in the public domain. If people are still living, they are free to comment, and other people are free to comment, on the documentation.’ When researching Victims of Yalta, I had approached Messrs. Brimelow, Dean, Galsworthy and Macmillan with requests for information. All declined, and as Sir Thomas (now Lord) Brimelow explained (21 August 1973), ‘I am still a public servant bound by the Official Secrets Act … I regret therefore that it would not be appropriate for me to comment …’ This pretext had now been removed by the Foreign Secretary’s authority, but the former diplomats and statesman remained as mute as ever. Sir Nicholas Cheetham, John Galsworthy’s predecessor as Ambassador in Mexico, wrote to The Times with a gentle enquiry: ‘As a former colleague of these gentlemen with certain White Russian connections, I would be deeply interested in their comments and explanations. So, I am sure, would many of your readers.’ It was at this time that Sir Patrick Dean (Ambassador in Washington 1965–69, and current Chairman of the English-Speaking Union) chose to appear in a television documentary on fugitive German war criminals. As a former prosecuting counsel at the Nuremberg Tribunal, he was lamenting that more Germans had not been brought to justice. ...

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