This article addresses one aspect of the legal proceedings known collectively as the ‘Nuremberg trials’: British policy towards, and trials of, Nazi war criminals in the British zone of occupied Germany. The killing of fifty allied airmen after their escape from Stalag Luft III illustrates how atrocities against British POWs affected British war crimes policy. The article examines one part of that policy: the efforts to expedite trials and the decision to end them. It examines the ambivalence that characterized British attitudes towards war crimes trials, and also discusses British hopes for an expeditious trial programme and political and legal objections to delays in prosecutions. Finally, it shows that concerns about the Stalag Luft III case led to extensions in the trial programme, but that eventually the programme was subordinated to Britain's broader policy of reintegrating Germany into the western fold.