Evatt to Oldham for Laski

Cablegram 214 CANBERRA, 1 August 1945


Personal and most urgent. For immediate personal delivery.

We were very pleased at your friendly statement. [1] The situation from the Commonwealth’s angle requires a new approach so that your Government and ours can become real partners in relation to both European and particularly the Pacific peace settlements. The Foreign Office does lip service to this objective but in practice deprives us even of opportunities which Lloyd George [2] freely granted in 1919. I am very hopeful that with your help and leadership Attlee and Bevin whom I have telegraphed will take a very different view. One immediate solution would be to include Australia as a principal in the proposed Council of Foreign Ministers. The inclusion of China is proposed but in relation to the European settlement our position as belligerent is far stronger than that of China. Our relation to the Pacific, our very life and destiny are equally involved.

I fear influences tending against the possibility of really democratic movements rising up in enemy territories including Japan. The Foreign Minister of Greece, Sophianopolous, who recently resigned, assured me at San Francisco that Greece wanted a democratic regime immediately and that the strongest forces operating against this came from London.

The whole problem is so vast that I fear it may be settled piecemeal and to the advantage of Fascist or near-Fascist forces.

War Crimes is a particularly important matter. Lord Wright, who is our representative on the Commission [3], is strongly in favour of treating the Japanese Emperor as imputable with responsibility because of the system of unspeakable barbarities ordered and practised in the New Guinea campaign. I would be glad if you could see Australia’s evidence which will be made available to you through Oldham who is delivering this message.

I know there will be full co-operation between us. As you know I did my utmost to help you all to the very limits of my power.

Above all an immediate friendly public gesture or statement from Attlee or Bevin or both is desirable and I hope they will follow your example.

Most affectionate greetings always.



1 Presumably a reference to Laski’s remarks after the Labour party victory implying that Labour’s foreign policy held more promise for other democracies than that of the previous government.

2 U.K. Prime Minister, 1916-22.

3 Robert Alderson, Baron Wright of Durley. Distinguished jurist and Master of the Rolls, 1935-37. He succeeded Lord Atkin as Australia’s representative on the UN War Crimes Commission in June 1944, and was elected chairman of the Commission in January 1945.


[AA : A3196, 1945, FOLDER, OUTWARDS MOST SECRET, O.19965]