Churchill was determined to have German leader Adolf Hitler executed

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British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was determined to have German leader Adolf Hitler executed if he was captured, according to previously secret government documents released Sunday.

Other documents released show that Churchill favored letting India’s Mahatma Gandhi die if he went on a hunger strike while interned during World War II, and that British troops were told during the war to show respect for the U.S. Army’s then-racial segregation practices.

At a Cabinet meeting in December 1942, Churchill noted: “Contemplate that if Hitler falls into our hands we shall certainly put him to death,” according to notes taken by Deputy Cabinet Secretary Sir Norman Brook.

“This man is the mainspring of evil.”

The government documents released to the public for the first time Sunday chart Cabinet discussions from 1942-45 over how to deal with senior members of Hitler’s Nazi party if they were caught.

     

In April 1945, Home Secretary Herbert Morrison expressed the opinion that a “mock trial” for Nazi leaders would be objectionable: “Better to declare that we shall put them to death,” he said.

Churchill agreed that a trial for Hitler would be “a farce,” but within weeks both the United States and Russia said they favored trying Nazi leaders, and trials were later held at Nuremberg, Germany.

Later, Churchill proposed that Britain negotiate what to do with Nazi leaders such as Gestapo head Heinrich Himmler — who had already sought secret peace talks with Britain — and then “bump him off later.”

When Secretary of State for War Sir Peter Grigg objected that activities at concentration camps such as Buchenwald — which Himmler helped to operate — did not qualify as war crimes, the prime minister retorted: “Don’t quibble: he (Himmler) could be summarily shot, in respect of some of those in the camp.”

Other papers released Sunday show that Churchill favored letting the Indian peace campaigner Mahatma Gandhi die if he went on a hunger strike while interned during World War II.

Britain was unwilling to allow Gandhi to campaign against the war and the British colonial government while India — a key colony — was under threat of invasion by the Japanese.

Gandhi was held in the Aga Khan’s palace in August 1942 after speaking out against India’s involvement in the fight against Nazi Germany and demanding civil disobedience.

After much discussion, ministers decided in January 1943 that although they could not publicly give in to a hunger strike, they would be willing to release Gandhi on compassionate grounds if he seemed likely to die.

Churchill retorted: “I would keep him there (in prison) and let him do as he likes.”

Gandhi was freed in 1944.

 

 

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