No. 307 NAI DFA ES Box 33 File 234

John Chartres to George Gavan Duffy (Dublin)

(No. 125/1922)

Eden Hotel, Berlin, 27 July 1922


A Chara,
Your letter, No. 160.1

I believe I am correct in saying that you do not know German. You may, therefore, have been misled by mistranslation or misinformation. The statements, however, in your letter are made without qualification and I have no alternative but to deal with them as they stand.

The statement that I have extolled those who are wrecking the country is unfounded. I refer to the translation annexed.2 The only expressions of appreciation are to be found in the sketches of General Collins and Mr. Griffith. In the other paragraphs there is a bare chronological recital of facts.

The statement about the reference to the division in the army is also unfounded. Here again I refer to the annexed translation. I add the information that the German word 'als' - 'at the time when' - is not equivalent to the German word 'da' - 'inasmuch as.'

The statement about disproportionate space is, in my opinion, unjustified. The Bulletin is a continuing publication, in which a large amount of space has been devoted regularly to the members of the Government and their work. In addition to short notices of members of the last Cabinet and of the Provisional Government there was a detailed biographical sketch of President Griffith. The President's statement to the Press in February on the aims of the new Irish Government was issued in full. All official statements and correspondence given out by General Collins since he became Chairman of the Provisional Government have been printed, practically in full, and we have reprinted as pamphlets, having a wider circulation than the scope of the Bulletin permits, two of the articles in his recent series. One of these, describing the constructive tasks lying ahead of the Government, has attracted widespread attention here. There have been no fewer than five special articles on the national army, recounting its entry into the various enemy fortresses, with speeches by Generals Mulcahy and O'Duffy. In addition to general articles setting forth the improvement on all sides since the taking over of the Government services, special articles have been devoted from time to time to the work of the Ministers of Education, Agriculture, Local Government, Trade and Commerce and the Postmaster General, as well as frequent articles on the various commissions set up by the Government. In view of all this information published during the last few months, the suggestion that we are extolling the opponents of the Government is really indefensible.

It is germane to add that when the Bulletin in question was published, there was no news here of any outbreak or expectation of extended civil war. Everyone expected the riots to be over immediately. Here I take the opportunity to refer to my repeated requests for authentic news or hints for the guidance of our publicity work and to the fact that I am still forced to rely upon what I can glean or interpret from the press.

I proceed to place on record some further facts with which, had you been able to read the Bulletins, you would doubtless have been familiar.
(1) Throughout the whole series of Bulletins not a single number can be found containing any endorsement or encouragement, direct or indirect, of the party opposed to the present Government.
(2) No opportunity has been missed to dwell with pride on the immense advances made in circumstances of great difficulty by the Provisional Government in the reconstruction of the national life.
(3) It has been my constant effort to maintain at the highest possible level the national fame and prestige in the face of a good deal of insidious propaganda directed against both. It was for this reason that I refrained so long from dealing with the Ulster position lest added importance should be given to foreign efforts to emphasise in foreign interests differences among Irishmen. When I could no longer refrain I followed closely the line of comment followed by Mr Collins in his official pronouncements with the support of observers like Professor MacNeill and others. Similarly, I have abstained consistently from accentuating the differences on the subject of the Treaty. I have confined myself to dwelling upon the greatness of the work that is being done by the Provisional Government. To harp on Irish differences would not only have been ill-advised on broad, general grounds but would have prejudiced the prospects of the special tasks with which I was entrusted recently when in Dublin.

I beg to direct your attention to the following points:-

  1. Almost simultaneously with your own observations a letter of a very insolent character, attacking the Bulletin, was received from Gerald Hamilton. His point is an error in a recent Bulletin - an error ('Kommission' for 'Kommunion') made by the printer in the course of introducing changes in the proof and set right in the next issue. Hamilton actually states that he is communicating with the Government on the matter. In view of the report I have made on this man and of the correspondence you have been carrying on with him about myself, I shall be glad to learn how you regard this incident. I wish to add for your information that I have before me a letter of Hamilton's in which he purports to cite precise words used by you in a letter to him. The words cited, which are in quotation marks, contain a statement about myself which is contrary to fact.
  2. You have been made aware that letters to Germany should not be registered unless it is immaterial whether or not the contents are read in transit. You will therefore be in a position to appreciate the unfortunate significance of the endorsement with which the opened envelope reached me 'Amtlicher Charakter nicht ersichtlich, daher eröffnet.'
  3. You are aware that I have frequently urged both in writing and orally, a Cabinet enquiry into issues which have arisen between us in connection with my efforts to protect the national interests and safety. As there can scarcely be two enquiries into matters relating to my official work, the investigation you foreshadow in your letter will, of course, apply generally. As soon as the arrangements have been made, I can be in Dublin at short notice.
  4. I refrain from touching here on the grave personal imputations conveyed in the statements you have put forward so categorically. With that imputation I propose to deal in another way.

I request you to bring this letter in its integrity before the Cabinet.

John Chartres

1 No. 302.

2 Not printed.

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