Thursday, 10 February 2011

Eire and the Nazis

The 1930s saw the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany and eventually in 1939 Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France then declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 but Eire remained neutral.

In the Irish Republic there was some support and sympathy for the Nazis. As early as April 1937 the Irish Times had published a translation of an interview given by the Irish minister in Berlin, Charles Bewley, to the evening newspaper Uhrblatt. In it Bewley said, among other things, that ‘my government will always do everything to promote the old friendship between Ireland and Germany’ and that Hitler and his colleagues had ‘many admirers among our youth’.  Bewley was eventually recalled on 8 August 1939 by de Valera, who was embarrassed by Bewley’s outspoken pro-Fascist views. Indeed Bewley believed that the West should back Hitler against Communism.

As Jewish persecution increased in Europe, a trickle of Jewish refugees started to enter Ireland but there was a significant anti-Jewish sentiment. On 20 November 1938 the 1916 Veterans’ Association adopted a motion ‘that we hereby register our emphatic protest against the growing menace of alien immigration and urge on the Government the necessity of more drastic restrictions in this connection’.

Then on 23 February 1939 the Irish Times carried the text of a manifesto issued by the Irish-Ireland Research Society declaring its refusal to ‘stand by and allow the Jewish hold on our economic life to develop’.  In an editorial the Irish Times described this as 'the crudest form of anti-Semitic propaganda'.  Subsequently the manifesto was printed in the Nazi Party newspaper Volkischer-Beobachter on 26 February.  Investigations by the police suggested that the group did not actually exist and that the manifesto was the creation of a female journalist and two employees of the Irish Press.

Most people are familiar with the fact that Eire remained neutral during the war but few people are aware of the exent of anti-Jewish feeling in the country.

14 comments:

  1. It might do well at this point to document the prevalence of anti-semitism elsewhere. The desecration of the Jewish part of the Belfast City Cemetary might be one place to start

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  2. Angus- That is a good point. The synagogue in Belfast is in my constituency and I grew up at a time when there was still a substantial Jewish community in Belfast. Many of them have dispersed elsewhere for a variety of reasons, such as work or marriage. Indeed recently when I was in Washington I met an old Jewish friend with whom I had gone to university. We recalled old times and he spoke of his affection for Ulster and his debt to Ulster.

    The desecration of the Jewish part of the cemetery was part of a wider situation of mindless anti-social behaviour, largely fueled by drink and drugs. The cemetery is lcoated in nationalist West Belfast and there is a real problem with anti-social behaviour, vandalism and thuggery. This led eventually to the creation of a concentrated 'community safety' approach to address it but there is a very long way to go. I am not sure if much or indeed any of the desecration was actually anti-Semitic. I suspect it was just general anti-social behaviour. The entire cemetery was even used as a 'race-track' by joy rivers driving stolen cars! There were a few slogans painted at various times in the Jewish section as indeed there were elsewhere but those who did it were probably mindless vandals from the surrounding area.

    Fortunately the situation at the cemetery is improving and it is now recognised that the history represented in the City Cemetery is something to be remembered, with the potential to draw tourists and visitors into the area.

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  3. Hello Nelson,

    A delightfully one-sided set of entries regarding the 'relationship' between nazi germany and Eire.

    I'm sure if one bothered to look through the historical archives, individuals from practically every country in Europe could be found making comments about the Nazis in a favourable light. I suppose you have chosen to focus on the Irish for good reason, other than the typical blatant anti-Irish tirade?

    Anywho, here's a few more examples to add some historical context:

    Sir Neville Henderson, Britians ambassador to Germany (1937 - 39) wrote in October '39: "There are in fact many things in the Nazi Organisation and social institutions...which we might study and adapt to our own nation and old democracy."

    In fact Mr Henderson thought Hermann Goring was super! I suggest you read his book 'Failure of a mission: Berlin 1937 - 1939'.

    Indeed Chamberlain himself wrote that the UK and Germany together would be: "the two pillars of European peace and buttress against communism".

    If you'd like I can post further examples of pro-nazi from dozens of prominent figures from every political spectrum from every european nation if youd like? Or I can simple focus on the UK if you'd be more interested in that, specifically?

    Apoligies for my spelling in advance.

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  4. Hi Again,

    I actually have a few photos of Sir Neville and Hitler and Sir Neville and Hermann having great fun together, I can post you the links to where these pictures can be found if interested?.. or again if you'd like to hear of a different prominant Briton saying splendid things of the nazis (sometime against a common enemy) let me know..

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  5. Good, you always know when somebody has lost the argument they invariably invoke Hitler and the Nazis.

    It's such a pity poor old Carson and Craig, Lord Londonderry and the likes, aren't here to defend their close relationships with the German boys.

    The Germans in 1912 send guns and ammunition to the ulster terrorists and they are still praised in NI - admittedly, mostly by the ignorant.

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  6. Carson and Craig offered the Ulster Volunteer Force to the government as the 36th (Ulster) Division to fight Germany in the war.

    You describe the Ulster loyalists of 1912 as 'terrorists'. That is totally untrue. They did not engage in the tradition republican tactic of bombing civilian targets.

    The fact is that Eire remained neutral in the war against Fascism while the IRA collaborated and colluded with the Nazis. That is one story the republican movement would prefer to forget. They celebrate Sean Russell but they ignore the fact that he was a Nazi collaborator as well as chief of staff of the IRA.

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  7. Anti-semitism had its proponents throughout the British Isles during the era in question- I suspect that Nelson is already plainly aware of this.

    His decision to paint Eire as some kind of evil, psuedo-Nazi hovel demonstrates that his personal prejudices continue outweigh his desire for objectivity historical accuracy. That is truly unfortunate.

    Move on, Nelson. Everyone else has.

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  8. Move on, you say, everyone else has. Perhaps you could remind the republican movement that it is time to 'move on'. They have come a long way but there is still some way to go. They could perhaps 'move on' by ending their annual adulation of a Nazi collaborator and apologising for IRA collaboration with the Nazis.

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  9. The article was entitled "Eire and the Nazis", and you signed off with the implication that Ireland was an inherently anti-semitic place. As well as being disproportionately harsh, you also perpetuate the hardliner's myth that "EIRE" and "IRA" are somehow interchangeable concepts. Unfair.

    Your party (justifiably) took great offence when the Protestant community were compared to Nazis in the past. It strikes me as hypocritical that you would do the same thing to others.

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  10. I stated that, 'In the Irish Republic there was some support and sympathy for the Nazis.' Of course not everyone was supportive or sympathetic to Fascism but some people were and the IRA did collaborate with the Nazis. On the other hand there were Irishmen who joined the British Army to fight against Fascism. Their service deserves to be remembered whereas the role of Sean Russell and the IRA demands an apology.

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  11. Will Mr McCausland be posting an article about those within the British Royal family (for one example: The Nazi Roots of the House of Windsor - http://american_almanac.tripod.com/naziroot.htm) who financed and supported the Nazis as well as moving over to Nazi Germany and living within the Nazi party? also, we must bring to attention that this was coming at a time when the British were at their most brutal and oppressive in Ireland and the under siege and suffocated Irish needed some outlet and support (which was not forthcoming from anyone). Maybe if Britain was human and had a heart and conscious the Irish wouldn't have had to be made to scour the earth for freedom.

    Nowadays though, its very ironic that Ireland and indeed Irish Republicanism is very secular and inclusive, while unionism/loyalism has been very oppressive and non-all inclusive and supremacist with links to fascism all over europe. A mad mad world Nelson....

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  12. I do not defend or eulogise anyone who supported or collaborated with the Nazis. However the case of Sean Russell is particularly interesting because today, when we know all about the evil of the Nazi system, Sinn Fein still persist in eulogising and celebrating the IRA chief of staff who collaborated with the Nazis. The statue of Russell in Dublin is, to my knowledge, the only statue anywhere in Europe to someone who was a Nazi collaborator.

    I also note that no one has responded to my next post, which is an extract from an Irish republican paper, published in 1940, praising Adolf Hitler! That is a hard one for republicans to explain away.

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  13. The late Oliver J Flanagan, Fine Gael TD and sometime Minister for Defence famously said this, in his maiden speech on the 9th of July 1943:

    "How is it that we do not see any of these [Emergency Powers] Acts directed against the Jews, who crucified Our Saviour nineteen hundred years ago, and who are crucifying us every day in the week? [...] There is one thing that Germany did, and that was to rout the Jews out of their country. Until we rout the Jews out of this country it does not matter a hair's breadth what orders you make. Where the bees are there is the honey, and where the Jews are there is the money."

    You can check it out in it's original context here: http://historical-debates.oireachtas.ie/

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  14. Oliver Flanagan one of the most controversial politicans in the history of Eire and he was noted for his anti-semitism.

    He was a member of the Knights of Saint Columbanus, a Roman Catholic secret society, and in September 1978 Pope John Paul I conferred on him a Knighthood of St Gregory the Great, the highest church honour open to a layman. He was also honoured in 1986 with membership of the Grand Order of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem.

    Flanagan remained a TD until February 1987, when his son Charles succeeded him, and he died on 26 April 1987. He had been the country’s longest serving parliamentarian and was the Father of the Dail.

    The journalist Bruce Arnold wrote an article on Oliver Flanagan for the Irish Independent and said: 'He provoked criticism by his determined view that the authority of the [Roman Catholic] Church should prevail in matters of State. His very appearance in the Dail chamber was linked, as often as not, to a contentious piece of legislation or debate bearing upon Catholic teaching.' [Irish Independent 27 April 1987]

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