June 22, 2002
More On Irish Neutrality

U.S.S. Clueless has an interesting post on Ireland, in which he says (among much else) "Irish neutrality has always left a sour taste in my mouth". He talks about the refusal of the Irish government in World War II to allow British or even American submarine-chasing planes to be based in Ireland, with the result that the Battle of the Atlantic was nearly lost.

As I recall from an article a few years ago in (I think) Commentary, it was worse than that, and Ireland was not just pedantically and short-sightedly neutral. There were suspicions, never confirmed, that the Germans were using isolated inlets in the west of Ireland to refuel their submarines, with the tacit permission of the Irish government. However that may be, they certainly sent official condolences to the German embassy on the death of Hitler. They cannot have been motivated by fear at that point, since the Russians were already on the outskirts of Berlin, and everyone knew that surrender was only a week or so away. They also vehemently protested the stationing of American troops in Ulster before D-Day as a violation of Irish sovereignty, while ignoring the savage German bombing of Belfast, which killed hundreds of their fellow Irish.

Of course, it's possible that I remember the article wrong, since it's been a few years. However, I doubt it: it made a big impression. The Irish had good reason to dislike and distrust the British, but the principle that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" can be taken way too far.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at June 22, 2002 11:10 PM

Well, the Wiesenthal Center makes no such charge of assistance. They seemed to fear invasion by both sides (and I would say both were justified, on attitude, though circumstances never went that way). Germany had assisted them during the British economic sanctions, and I really don't think that if there were clandestine submarine refuelings that the U-35 incident would have played out as it did. Of course, things could have changed later -- it was a long war; but surely if this U-boat captain can turn up, the others might as well. (Okay, except for the ones that got kilt.)

The Ulster protest you mention is in part because the then-government insisted its boundaries were the entire island, i.e. important for domestic politics and long-term legal sovereignty hopes.

Yes, there was too much sympathy in retrospect, but given the historical run-up to the war I can't blame them. The number of Irish who volunteered demonstrates the true feelings.

Posted by: Dan Hartung on June 23, 2002 02:01 AM

Sorry, but I don't see that your objections really meet my arguments. Fear of the Germans cannot have motivated the condolences on Hitler's death. And the point about Ulster is the double standard: protesting the stationing of American troops in Ulster while not protesting German bombing of Belfast is gross hypocrisy. Surely bombing a city is a greater violation of sovereignty than quartering troops in the countryside.

In your first link, I find it interesting that the Irish were willing to accept free American guns but then pointed half of them at America's ally -- pretty cheap behavior, if you ask me. And the idea that Churchill could have seriously contemplated rebuilding Britain's Irish empire when he was barely able to survive fighting Germany and Italy is absurd now and must have been absurd then. Also the idea that if he had done so, inviting German troops into Ireland would have been a good idea.

Of course, few of the neutral countries in Europe acquitted themselves particularly well. Sweden supplied steel to the Nazi war machine, Switzerland took in only 8,000 refugees (= 0.1% of their population) and then said that "the lifeboat is full", Spain supplied a whole division of "volunteers" to fight for the Nazis on the Russian front. That leaves only Portugal and Turkey, and the latter is hardly in Europe at all.

I hope to get to the library tomorrow to find the article I mentioned. More information then.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on June 23, 2002 08:02 PM

Churchill estimates somewhere that the inability to use Irish ports cost the lives of 4000 British sailors. I seem to remember that he mentioned that Eire would have been occupied if it became a matter of life or death for Britain. The Irish, I've always thought, come about as close to the Islamists as you can get in terms of brooding over ancient wrongs and never letting a grievance die. (In reference to which, just what was it about the run-up to WWII that your first poster thinks justies Ireland's intransigence?)

Posted by: Kenneth Burke on June 24, 2002 12:23 AM

Actually, if I recall correctly, Portugal supplied Germany with tungsten ore, vital for the armor of their tanks. It was called "wolfram" back then.

Posted by: Mario F. on June 24, 2002 03:03 PM

I'm a German working in Dublin Ireland. A while ago I took a ride with a geriatric taxi driver who told me that of his scool class in the 30's some men went to fight for the allies and others went to fight for Germany!? He sounded very believable and had lots of details and names. But anyway, so far I couldn't confirm it from other sources (some times vague rumors) or find any records of that. If anyone has some information on that or knows where to get some, I would be very thankful.

Posted by: Joern S. on August 9, 2002 10:18 AM

As an Irishman who majored in Irish involvement in WW2 for my leaving Cert, I feel obliged to address some of the comments re. Irish neutrality in WW2.

Irish neutrality was completely biased in favour of the allies.
1 All weather reports were banned from public broadcast fearing axis interception, they were passed to Britain however.
2Naval observers reported U-Boat activity to the British admiralty(Unlikely therefore that we were refuelling them!)
3 British intelligence was brought in to co-operate in a search for possible axis spy rings operating in Ireland.
4 Axis airman who crashed in Ireland were interred in the Curragh army basefor the war's duration. Allied air-crews however were returned across the northern border .
5 A joint defense plan was drawn up between Ireland and Britain in case of invasion. Funds were held in Dublin banks to pay british troops if required.
6. The bombing of Belfast was a high point in North South relations because Dublin dispatched ambulances over the border to help with casualties, something welcomed by even the Northern Unionists.
7 Irish citizens were free to join allied armies and return to Ireland without recrimination even if they had deserted the Irish army to do so.

Lastly while I do not agree with my country"s present non-alignment or so called neutrality, however one must understand that at the time, Ireland had only had partial independance for 18 years, a civil war could well have ensued had they joined with the old enemy.

Posted by: Donogh MacCarthy-Morrogh on August 23, 2002 06:37 PM

As a scotsman living in ireland for the last five years I know only too well the hypocrisy that surrounds issues of neutrality in ireland. The current paranoia over the upcoming nice referendum only underlines this. If ireland were to be attacked by Islamist terrorists or by another country,im sure the UK would be the first nation to offer help. The irish have never appreciated the enourmous sacrafice made by british and american people in the defence of freedom during ww2. Churchhill always thought that Germany would attempt to invade britain from the west, first invading Ireland - what then for irish neutrality? In the event, it never came to that - only because of the thousands of brave people who laid their lives down for us.

The irish know that they will probably never be attacked by anyone so it suits them extremely well to stick to thier neutrality - it allows them to continue their age - old vendetta against everything british. Although all my best friends are irish , and i love the people, their is a level of hypocrisy here which is far in excess of anything encountered in the halls of Westminster.

To sum up - the irish have very selective memories and a massive chip on thier collective shoulder (ruthlessly conditioned by the child-like irish press).

Posted by: DUNCAN NORRIE on September 19, 2002 06:17 PM

I have just found ths string and some interesting points raised. There is no contesting the fact that DeValera gave his condolences on the death of Hitler. I wonder whether this was a reflection of DeValera as a pedant over protocol rather than any pro-German sentiment. The idea that the Iris government would have given tacit support to the re-fuelling of U-boats strikes me as unlikely. Eire was utterly dependant on Britain for oil. ANy suspiciion that some of that fuel was going to german vessels would have had dire consequences for Eire I'm sure!

Irishmen in the service of the Reich? German attempts to form a free Irish unit were a total failure. Only two Irishmen were known to hav served in the German forces, although there may have been one or two more. I would refer you to the excellent Adrian Weale book "Renegades: Hitler's Englishmen" for information on this matter. Some Irishmen certanly did work for the Germans, broadcasting etc (see Hitler's Irish Voices by David O'Donoghue (I think that's the right name). German espionage attempts seem to have been a total failure too.

I would also refer you to another excellent book "In time of War" by Robert Fisk. This is sould give a good overview of Irish neutrality during WWII.

Finally I would like to point out that there were more Citizens of Eire served in the British armed forces during WWII than came from Northern Ireland (My father included who served in the RAF Pathfinder Force)

Posted by: spd on October 17, 2002 12:45 PM

Irish neutrality was fiction, fact...Dublin fire brigades always assisted Belfast after WWII bombings. Americans in Eire were returned to the North safely..I know of a party who crashed a B17 in Athenry Co Galway on 15/01/1943 and were handed over in Belleek at 2am 16/01/1943..what a service. If your argument held up they should have been held in the Curragh Camp with the Germans until the emergency was over. Your original argument is typical of the imperialist opinion that often times was ill informed. Yes ...there was an official policy but the reality is what matters...check it out and don't always fall for the propaganda.

Posted by: Paul Browne on November 13, 2002 08:55 AM

Is there any truth in the assertion that DeValera was offered unification of Ireland in return for giving up neutrality in favour of the British government?

Posted by: Lesley Fraser on February 1, 2003 09:36 AM

I have read comments regarding WW2 and the Irish's position with interest, but I ask you, do you really regret irish neutrality? If yes, why?

Posted by: Mark O'Leary on February 9, 2003 06:24 AM

1) Yes there is some truth to the rumour that Dev was offered an end to partition in return for entering the war.
2) To say that we are hypocrytical is true but we also know it. You ask any irish person is the country is hypocrytical and they will say yes. Your saying nothing we dont already know there.
3) I hate to say this but World War 2 was born of the seeds sown in 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference. That was before MY country was even born. In no way can guilt for WW2 be placed at our door, as it can with the Brits and the Yanks oh and lets not forget the Frogs. Had those governments not been so gung ho about crushing Germany after WW1, WW2 could never have happened.
4) So as we hold NONE of the blame for the whole heap of shit that is WW2 dont complain because on a public level we didn't take part.
5) And i mean on a purely public level privatly we were for the allies. In our school's there is a clear bias for the allies taught. Irish men fought and died for the cause. Many more made sure the factories stayed running. so dont tell me we had no part in the war.
6) as for De Valera sending condolences when Hitler died. Your accusing us of being accomplices of the nazis because of that????????
Not only is that highly insulting it tells of your lack of intelligence. When a countries leader dies it is only good manners to send condolences and who can deal with death better than the irish? No one. I assure you that you will never go to a better funeral than a proper irish one.
7) I suggest that you take a good hard look at how your country (which ever it may be) helped to start WW2 and not spout off because the Irish didn't clear up your mess!

Posted by: donna on March 11, 2003 10:16 AM

to reply to lesley fraser's query, yes, De Valera was offered unification to end his neutrality in favour of the british. in a telegram from Churchhill which arrived at his house in the middle of the night, stating "here is your chance. now or never. a nation once again", dev was offered a 32 county ireland on a platter, only to righfully refuse. it was a good thing he did, because churchill had not discussed this with northern ireland and was also completely drunk when he wrote it. well done Dev!

Posted by: Jen on March 23, 2003 01:29 PM

When you say that the Republic didn't send any help to Northern Ireland following the German bombing of Belfast you are gravely mistaken. Over two hundred fire engines were rushed north to tackle the fires started by the German bombing raids. So get your bloody facts right. You should also know that when Allied pilots crash-landed in Ireland they were allowed to escape over the border into Northern ireland while German pilots were interned at the internment camp in the Curragh.

Posted by: O. Cox on March 25, 2003 11:08 AM

The response of the brave Southern Irish volunteers to fight fascism was inspirational to us English.

However we were not so pleased with the attitude of the Irish government.
Although it is true that the Irish were free to fight with Alied forces it is not true to say that they did it without fear of recrimination.

I live in Portsmouth and know several Irish men who served with British forces
against the Nazis only to be treated like scum when they returned home.
That is why they ended up living in England! They found it very difficult to get work.
They were even OFFICIALLY banned from playing Gaelic Football and Hurling!
Let no-one argue with this as it is true and was part of the rules of the governing bodies for many years.

The role of certain NI paramiliatries in providing information facilitating German bombing of the Belfast docks has always been a well-kept secret.

Posted by: Patrick Connor on April 7, 2003 07:16 AM

Let us face reality as it was. Germany was a very powerfull player and seemed to be poised not only to win but also devastate Great Britain back to the stone age. If Ireland had taken a pro-British policy in 1940 it would only become a target for heavy bombardment by the Luftwaffe. Ireland could have gambled either way or not have gambled at all. If Ireland had taken a side it could have been invaded and brought down to it s knees by either party, The realities of 1940-45 were different than 2003. The government of Ireland acted to protect and save their citizens from total destruction. The fact of Irish Government offering it s deepest simpathy to the German embassador after the demise of Hitler was clearly an act of personnal gratitude to the ambassador whose conduct during the war had been of respect towards Ireland.
Maybe that was unnecessary but we cannot create an opinion against Ireland based on this fact. It is too simplistic - Posted by Louis A. Pereira.

Posted by: luiz A. Pereira on July 15, 2003 08:34 PM

I have been writing an article on this topic for several months. I have found that somewhere between 35-40 thousand Irish fought for the Allies in WWII. However, the number is so inexact because the Irish government, even to this day, will not formally acknowledge Irish battle deaths from the Second World War. Right or wrong, the firm political resolve shown by Eire in this matter is indicative of its resolve to officially deny any allegiance to both Allies and Axis Powers. DeValera's condolence message to the Reich was not an admission of sympathy to the Axis cause at all, but simply a diplomatic courtesy to any state which wishes to maintain civil relations with another.
I must concur with those who have said that Irish neutrality was decidedly pro-Allies, however. The evidence is there to strongly support this statement, including everything that McCarthy-Murrogh posted. The evidence of sympathetic Irish-German dealings is MUCH more difficult to come by. There is some evidence to tie Eire's sympathies to Germany, but much of this evidence is veiled in secrecy, hypotheses and often in general conjecture.
The simple fact is DeValera did a masterful job at maintaining a believable facade of neutrality and preventing his own country's destruction while appeasing the Irish people's cultural and economic ties to Britain.

Posted by: S. Warnick on October 1, 2003 10:58 AM

Up DEV! DeValera is to Ireland what George Washington is to America.We just could not have gotten along without him.As soon as he got into power,1932,he continued to sever Britain's hold on Ireland.This is why he was elected with such large mandates from the Irish people. He almost succeeded but the job is yet unfinished. DeValera was a great man for his time and history will surely agree with that. You can slag him all you like but that doesn't matter to those of us who know better.He was one tough cookie as all those who tangled with him found out very quickly.We'll never see the likes of him again.Thank you Eamonn.

Posted by: Henry joy mcCracken on November 2, 2003 01:16 AM

Henry McCracken,

I bet Michael Collins didn't share your high opinion of Eamon DeValera, the man who almost single handidly started Irelands civil war to save his own political skin.

As for Ireland's dealing with the Axis in WW2 it may have been limited to minor dablings to gain advantage at Englands expense, but in WW1, DeValera and his buddy Casement certainly were on Germanys side.

Posted by: Gazaz on November 11, 2003 09:24 AM

Gazaz,Tell us all what WW-1 was all about and we'll send you to the head of the class.To me it was complete insanity.DEV and Collins had nothing to do with WW-1, 1914-18,they were too busy preparing for 1916 insurrection and fighting the British occupation in Ireland.Casement's aborted attempt to bring in arms from Germany for IRA,could hardly be described as pro German. It seems you don't know what your talking about here.In the civil war Dev's overall influence was at best tenuous,there were so many breakaway factions seeking power,especially in Cork and Kerry,in fact the civil war went on long after it was declared over by the Cosgrave govt and even during The FF govt under DeValera. Both govts fought against the holdout factions,executing many, all through the years up to and including WW-2.DEV made a better politician/statesman than he did a revolutionary.He forced England to give up the Irish ports,refused to pay them land Annunities,'refused Ireland's membership in the British commonwealth.He was a very busy man after he came to power in '32-48 and succeeded in beating Britain at their own game,and you thought Ireland won their independence in 1921.It really didn't happen 'till 1938,thanks to DEV.He could've declared Ireland a free and independent republic at any time but 'did not because the six counties of the north were and still are,under British control.DEV could not,would not do that.That happened in 1948,under John A. Costello's F.G. govt.That just says we're satisfied with what we got. Well! for one, I'm not satisfied.Dev knew how deceptive the British govts had always been in regards to Ireland,he had just spent years negotiating with them and wasn't about to let British troops back on Irish soil to fight WW-2,afterall Ireland had just got rid of them after 800 years of being under their boot.If you want to know more read your history book,the one written by the Irish,not the British version. Erin go bragh!

Posted by: Henry Joy McCracken on November 11, 2003 02:49 PM

What did we owe the British in 1940??
Nothing thats what. Why should we get bombed to bits for British Sailors and the use of the ports??
When was the last time British sailors/soldiers had come to our aid in our time of need??
Its not as if Irish help would have been pivitol in winning the war so why should we have suffered again like generations of Irish had done before??

Henry Joy,
How can you say that the link to DeVelera and the outbreak of the civil war was tenuous?? He was the
leader in the Dail of the opposition and voted against it. It seems his reasons for doing this were due to the fact he had not been consulted about the final treaty terms despite it being well recognised that he agreed with most of it. His link only becomes tenuous during the war itself when his lack of military expertise(support for Customs House attack!!)/experience made him an irrelevent figure. It was only after the Civil war that he became a major player once again where he accepted the treaty which he had allegedly been so vehemently against!

Gozaz, Regarding WW1 it is probably not fair to say they were pro German but rather Anti English. I'm sure if it was France Vs England in the war and there was an opportunity for Ireland to get weapons from the French they would have done so. I am not the most Republican man in the world but as an Irishman I am happy that the Easter Rising went ahead and if it took German guns to make it happen then what what harm?? we owed the English nothing, quite the opposite and it is only due to the easter rising that we have become the nation we are today.

Posted by: Joe on November 12, 2003 06:19 AM

I'm not saying DEV was a saint. Who is? Sure,he was a opportunist.When he saw the new state was up and running without him,he felt he had to get back into play,otherwise he would've been just another ex-player. At the time Ireland was full of them.The Cosgrave govts did a admirable job in the transition of power from England and set progress in motion all thru the twenties.Then,in 1932 DEV having formed his own political party, Fianna Fail, got elected and played his hand brilliantly by removing the oath of allegiance to the British crown,'abolished the office of King's representative in Ireland created by the terms of the treaty. In other words he brought about the existence of a real independent Irish state by producing a new constitution that replaced the one created by the treaty with all its real and sybolic connections to England.That took some doing between 1932-38.1937 saw the first head of state,when Douglas Hyde became Ireland's first president swearing allegiance to Ireland only.Of course many of the old die-hard republicans regarded DEV had betrayed them by agreeing to participate in the Dail. It became a different Dail before long under DeValera.It became for the first time a fully free independent govt with no connection to England. He stuck to his guns and saw his dream become reality.Ireland needed him at that time,he brought about a legally established Irish nation. I'll conclude with a personal note here,I actually saw DEV once along with thousands when he dedicated Clonmacnois as a historic national landmark in 1956 or '57.He had been re-elected Taoisach(PM)'was almost blind,he got out of his limo and nearly tripped and fall over a grave but 'was escorted to the crowded podium by many eager hands.The podium was two flat-bed trucks and overflowed with politicians from all over Ireland who wanted to rub shoulders with the "tall" man himself. His words of dedication were few and in Gaelige and off he went in his limo with helicopters flying overhead.His methods may not have suited everyone but one has to admit the man had balls. May he rest in peace.

Posted by: Henry Joy McCracken on November 12, 2003 02:55 PM

The comments I have read have filled in much of the detail I needed to explain Irish 'Neutrality'in WW2. There is much more I am sure, but that will be in archieves in London and Dublin that will be sealed for a considerable time longer. It is my conjecture that Irish neutrality was a valuable asset to the Allied cause, and that DeValera had his own agenda which happened to coincide with much of what the Allies needed to conduct WW2. When we will get to know the full story can only be the subject of speculation. However what cannot be denied is that Eire had no good reason to trust either Britain of Germany during WW2 for deep-seated historical reasons. DeValera's solution was ideal. He opted for neutrality like Spain did basically on the grounds that his country could not afford to go to war, but he gave his citizens free choice to get involved in the conflict just as Franco did in Spain. He knew which way most would chose to go, and felt that this was quite an adequate sacrifice to make. The figures of 42000 Irishmen serving in the British forces however seems very low. My records seem to indicate it was much higher and overall may have been as high as 250000. If this was the case it seems obvious that Irish neutrality was deliberately concocted, and that Anglo-American protests about treaty ports were manufactured to emphasise Irish neutrality. The cooperation between Irish internal security forces, the MI5/6, the CIA and FBI is well documented, and has been in place since Eire first became independent. It was an obvious ploy to encourage the Germans to attempted to infiltrate their spies into Britain via Ireland. This enabled the Britsh internal security forces to pick up those spies immediately they landed on British soil. Likewise Ireland could also act as a channel to get allied spies into Germany. This is a valid and pertinent point when you consider Irish neutrality in WW2. I studied Irish history for a long time and have found many anomalies of this nature. The full story as to why Ireland remained neutral in WW2 has still to be told. I suspect it has a deep and devious background apart from some of the obvious reasons mentioned by many of the corespondents

Posted by: Bill Mc Gunnigle on November 21, 2003 07:11 AM

I am an American and recently became aware of Irelandís declared neutrality during WWII. I have taken the time to read the comments, theories, accusations, and defenses posted above. As an American I am offended that ANY country would refuse to help their neighbor in time of a dire war such as WWII, and any nation who refused to attack the evil that Nazi Germany clearly thrust upon the world is looks like nothing short of national cowardice. Yes the war was ugly, yes it was dangerous, yes it killed young men and women, but it had to be stopped. Neutrality stops nothing. In fact neutrality allows wars to continue. The best way to stop a war is for everyone to attack the aggressor. Everyone, as soon as one nation claims neutrality they give the enemy one less problem to deal with. I can only guess Irelandís neutrality was clearly two fold. One, it was scared to death and decided to hide in the rock, hoping to avoid detection, and two I would have to guess that Ireland liked the idea of the UK getting a beating from a superior force. I can understand the mixed emotions of letting the UK know what it feels like to be attacked and almost beaten, but I donít understand the willingness to not stand up like men and fight Nazi Germany and everything it stood for, even if you have to help and old enemy to beat a new enemy. This blatant cowardice is clearly what is so disgusting. If you study the American side you will realize that a good part of the American population wanted to remain neutral during the war too. Fortunately our president FDR saw the war as a global danger, as well as a direct threat to our friends and allies. We were clearly helping thwart the Naziís before the attack on December 7, 1941 which brought the United States into the war. This doesnít mean Americans wanted to fight, or that we wanted to kill and die, it means we saw a difficult job that had to be done and we stepped up to see it got done, risks and all. For a country like Ireland to treat the war like it was not their problem is clearly adolescent.

1. Nazi Germany did not respect treaties.
2. It clearly had a world dominating agenda.
3. It was imprisoning and killing its own citizens and everyone else it didnít like.
4. It attacked and/or occupied enemy and friend alike.

So did Ireland think after Nazi Germany beat England they would suddenly become great buddies to the Irish? Did Ireland imagine Nazi Germany and Fascist rule the best political structure for Europe under Hitlerís dictatorship? Suppose Germany actually won, did the Irish think the Germans would respect a neutral nation which neither had the back bone to help its friends, or the will to fight its enemies as a sovereign nation? Ireland probably did favor its neutrality to the Allies; all that shows is that they are not completely obtuse. When American men and boys went off to fight for foreign soil and risked their lives it is not much to say, well we favored our neutral towards you while you were dying by the thousands. Ireland failed to understand that it is better to fight and die with friends than to lie down with evil. Had Ireland joined the Allies, all past transgressions forgotten until the threat was over; they would have been hailed heroes on the global stage, and clearly would have gained more respect from America, and Britain. I would speculate that had Ireland fought with the Allies and took their lumps like the Welsh and Scots they would have gained the title of winner and been looked upon as a trusted friend, rather than a possible adversary who perhaps wishes you ill. Ireland didnít see the value of risk, and hence must suffer the consequences of this short-sightedness and giving in to their petty differences and national fears. I know the allies would have welcomed Irelandís help and certainly could have used open support in the North Atlantic struggle, for the whole world lived in fear that Nazi Germany just might win the war. The strong nations were willing to take risk and action, vs. take a neutral course and hope for a good outcome, shamefully Ireland was not one of those nations, and her national history will forever reflect this. When it was time to be counted and counted upon Ireland was NOT there.

I believe Ireland made a huge mistake during WWII and because of this should expect ridicule and suspicion as a natural event if the face of what looks likes national cowardice or Nazi collaboration.

Posted by: American-Carr on February 17, 2004 08:34 AM

It,s a shame that the major requests for Ireland to give up it,s neutrality came from the British and not the Americans. The Irish affinity with the Americans i,m sure would have had far more influence on the outcome.?

Posted by: mark on March 15, 2004 05:34 PM

american-carr ur comments are laughable.u criticise a small weak country like ireland for not "stepping up" as u said n taking on the nazi threat."u were cleary helping to curb the nazi threat b4 dec 7th"bullshit.u were giving the uk the food weapons n oil they needed for 1 reason.so u could fight by proxy.u were being selfish and cowardly.if ireland had declared war on nazi germany it would have resulted in a 2nd civil war and irelands major cities being smashed to kindling.we did wat was prudent n neccessary.do u reserve the same bile for neutral countries like belgium,holland,norway,denmark,spain,portugal etc.etc.wat abt ur bile for de us pre-dec 7th.the war began in sept 1939.wat took u so long?????

Posted by: pro on April 13, 2004 08:23 PM

It actually suited Germany for Ieland to remain neutral and Hitler and Devalera both knew this.

If Ireland had joined the allies the effective radius of the anti-uboat planes would have been greatly enlarged. If Ireland had sided with fascism it would have been invaded at some stage in the war (and probably from ulster) which sounds incredible.

Hitler actually beleived that the Irish (and most other nothern europeans including the english) were fellow Aryans and his main beef was with "lesser" races like Poles, Russians, Jews.

At one time he met Franco after travelling by special train all the way to the Spanish border thru occupied France. Franco whined on for about 4 hours in his high pitched voice and still refused to enter the war despite earlier promises. Later Hitler said he would rather have teeth pulled than go through that again

I am Irish by the way

Posted by: stuart on April 15, 2004 03:45 AM

As for de Valera offering his condolences to the German Ambassador after Hitler's death, he did exactly the same for Roosevelt's death - he had to, else he wouldn't be treating both sides the same. He had to be seen as acting neutral.

As for any American's seeing neutrality as a heinous act, I suggest you have a look at your countries own history, especially WW1 and WW2. Weren't exactly in the thick of it from the word go were you? Isolationism mean anything to you?

And despite the obvious benefits of the Irish allowing use of the Treaty Ports, it was actually best that Ireland remained neutral for teh British overall: Eire had a working army of about 13,000. If she had sided with the Allies, troops would have had to be taken away from the North Africa and Western Europe and even the British Mainland to be stationed in Eire to repel any attack, leaving a severe shortage of men for other battles. If she had sided with the Axis powers, Britain would have been surrounded (Scandanavia, Mainland Europe and Ireland) and defeated long before the Americans actually got involved in the war, especially seeing as Germany had many more troops available to it then Britain did.

Donogh MacCarthy-Morrogh is perfectly in saying that the Irish helped the Allies, so far as almost risking neutrality. The German's knew of this, and even refused to accept the Irish Ambassador to Berlin, who eventually had to take up office in a farm outside of Berlin, that was owned by an Irishman who lived there for 20 years. Hardly the actions of bedfellows, eh?

And the Americans, or rather Roosevelt (who's mother was Irish, born in Co. Dublin) did push for Irish participation. In February 1944, the legendary 'American Note' was sent to de Valera. Neutrality was to remain, and quite rightly so.

Posted by: Dan K on May 9, 2004 12:20 PM

Hundreds of Irishmen fought with the British army during World War Two (my grand uncle who is still alive was one of them),an exact figure as to how many Irishmen fought with the American army is not known,but it is widely excepted that the figure is large.That is fact.
Ireland was far more helpfull to the allied cause neutral as opposed to being an official ally.This is the stance that the British military intelligence at the time took.As many Irish diplomats on the continent relayed valuable information to the British government.
We were blatantly pro ally in our actions.
Ireland had only recently won its freedom after a war against the British. Why should Ireland side with Britain against Germany? what was so overtly evil about the Germans at the beginning of the war? Its all very well and good to talk about concentration camps and the holocaust with hinesight,but we must remember that all this was not uncovered until the end of the war.
There is a disgusting taste of xenophobia within some of the letters,this should be checked in future.
I would Like to state that Hitler and the Nazis were evil,and that the war to rid the world of them was just in that regard.But we must tread carefully, millions of innocent Jews were killed in the concentration camps,Fact.How many hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanease died in Nagasaki and Hiroshima? Do you not think that was evil.
The Nazis persecuted the Jews,Fact.But look how the southern states of the U.S treated the Black community well into the sixties,why did the federal government take so long to act on that terrible injustice.
How many millions did Stalin murder?
You must keep the wider picture in perspective if you want to creat a balanced argument,and also you must be careful not to get too emotionaly involved and reveal biased racial prejudices which can destroy otherwise intelligent and vallid arguments.

Posted by: Trevor Kelleher on May 24, 2004 10:37 AM

my mothers 3 brothers all left dublin to serve in the raf during ww2 only 2 returned .the eldest charlie was sadly shot down over cologne what i cant understand is why apart from their headstones these brave irishmen have never been honoured by the irish state or for that matter british government

Posted by: jim byrne on June 10, 2004 03:34 PM

I'm going to say something now and if you lot dont like it,then tough.

If ireland,all 32 counties,chooses to be nuetral then thats our business and is of no consequence to anyone else,i'm sorry if it doesnt suit you but that the way life goes.

I read the article on u.s.s. clueless and yer man is just a jerk,Ireland isnt hiding behind anybody,ireland was never given anything,everything ireland has it had to fight for and work for,

Some people seem insulted that we didnt help the british during the second world war,a couple of points,
1.thousands apon thousands of irish died fighting the germans in the second world war(selective memory i suppose),
2.why should we help the british?we are not obliged,there is no affinity(sorry to dissappoint you).700years of crap treatment and you are somewhat distressed that the irish may dislike the british army,the irish will fight your wars nomore and the quicker you fools get into your heads the better,ye talk is if ye are some great benefactor,what has your country ever done for ireland?experts.

Posted by: taff3 on July 26, 2004 07:06 PM

I was surprised to read that Franco gave Spaniards the choice of which side they wished to fight on in WWII. He sent the Brigada Azul to fight the Soviets with the Germans on the Eastern Front. The Many Spaniards who resisted Nazism did so either as part of the French Resistance or enisted in the Soviet Army. If they had returned to Spain before Franco's death in 1975, they would certainly have been imprisoned, and quite possibly shot.
Devalera may not have been a dictator, and , like Franco, he may have been wise to keep his country out of WWII, but, like Franco, he kept Ireland in a medieval Catholic theocracy of narrow-minded censorship and smug self-righteous hypocrisy for as long as he could.

As regards the idea that the British did nothing for Ireland, I can only recall Monty Python's film, The Life of Brian, in which various ancient Palestinian Liberation Fronts / Organisations / Armies / Struggles etc. (with no disrespect to the modern Palestinian cause against Sharon etc) whinged away about "What have the Romans ever done for us?" To deny that Ireland has inherited muchfrom England, arguably both good and bad, is just silly.


Posted by: francis on August 21, 2004 12:18 AM

I am begining to find this to me the most ludicrous posting yet.

I am a German living long-term in ireland and actually seem to know a good deal more than the average on this (by your foolish postings).

But first things first, there was an American gentleman pointing out Ireland's evil for not fighting facism, this is great comming from a man who's country did'nt get involved in ww2 until Hitler declared war on the u.s. in joint with the japanese, and that people in America were actually neutral unlike the irish who fought in droves for the allies.

The most shocking thing I have found in the postings is the lack of realisation of the time.

1- It had only been two decades since the Irish had fought for their freedom in the war of Independance, and after Churchhill himself and Lord Marshall of the Empire had sent in the black and tans, who with SS-like proficiency, raped,murdered and pillaged the country side, not to mention the other 800 years of oppression, and it must also be remembered ina ll that time Germany was the only nation to aid the Irish freedom fighters(albight for it's own gains), so what can we truly say the Irish owed the British?

2- The Irish government was most afraid of getting involved in the war, the army was non-existant, with weapons from world war one, if an air war was declared on Ireland there would have been no defence.

3-DeValera's response to the death of Hitler is admittingly strange, but was more of a salute to the German ambassador who had been very accomadating for the simple reason he knew the Irish were helping the British extensivly but never once called for the invasion of Ireland, also this was the final show of Ireland independence, however foolish it was.

4-The crimes of Nazi german were depsite popular belief not so wide-spread, and at the time Fascism was just another paticular wing just like communism,seen as extreme , but as Churchhill said in the case of Italy "understandable", of course before world war two.

To any american who doubts the Irish peoples valour, check Churchill's word, and to any american, all you must research is the 69th regiment.

as for the other neutral countries? Switzerland for instance, neutral, pro-german and changed the currency for the NAZI' be it gold bricks or gold teeth, strange no mention here....

Posted by: Hessler on September 13, 2004 08:07 PM