469 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 317 25 May 1941,

MOST SECRET

Your telegram No. 230 of 15th May [1] received through the United Kingdom High Commissioner [2] German internees in Netherlands East Indies. Netherlands Minister for Foreign Affairs [3] informed my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs [4], that whilst under no circumstances would any of these internees be set free unconditionally he and the Netherlands authorities were quite prepared to consider an exchange with Dutch business men whose services would be of great value to the East Indies at the present time. He stated that discrimination would be exercised in the release of men who might be dangerous by reason of their special knowledge of local conditions and geography.

It was gathered from the Minister's conversation that he considered that most of the internees would not come within the above category but would be just ordinary business and commercial men. The Minister discounted any suggestion that the Netherlands authorities would be indifferent to their own and the allies' interests and claimed that many Germans had been set at liberty quite unconditionally after internment in Malaya.

1 Document 459.

2 Sir Geoffrey Whiskard.

3 Dr E. N. van Kleffens.

4 Sir Frederick Stewart.

[AA: M608, B41/1/9, ii]