No. 149 NAI DFA ES Box 241 File 240

Cornelius Duane to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
with enclosure on Irish-German relations
(86 C/D)

BERLIN, 19 October 1923

A Chara,

I am forwarding you two copies of a report on suggested improvements that might be carried out at the Berlin office. On Sept. 20th I put forward the view to the Ministry of Industry & Commerce that alterations were necessary and on being requested by that Ministry to give an outline of the proposed alterations I reported as in the enclosure.

Mise, le meas,


The office is situated in a residential quarter in West Berlin and is far removed from the business, political and financial centre as well as from the majority of the great railway stations. The manufacturing part of this city lies in the North and the business section runs roughly from Potsdamerplatz to Alexanderplatz. An office located between the former square and Friedrichstr. would be most convenient for Irish people to find (should they require any assistance) as well as for a Trade Representative because he would have only a little travelling to do to get into the business part of the city at once.

The political centre of Berlin is the Wilhelmstr. - the seat of the German Government. Now and again it happens that I must travel thither for information on one thing or another as raised by one or other of the Irish Ministries. The amount of time thus lost is by no means negligible and while I am absent from the office the only person in the place is the typist.

Again the banking centre is in the Behrenstr. which is not very far from the Wilhelmstr. From the point of view of monetary transactions the speed with which these are carried out by the big banks is an advantage not to be enjoyed at any of the branch offices in this neighbourhood.

Finally it would be far easier for German business-men to visit an office in the vicinity of Potsdamerplatz than in the Kaiser Allee. I am sure I would have seen more of them if I were in a more central position.

These are the main reasons why I disapprove of the location of the present office.


Office Staff

May I refer to your letter of May 12th1 and in particular to the instructions appended for the guidance of Trade Representatives abroad. I think it is quite impossible to carry out efficiently these instructions single-handed as work has considerably increased here during the last few months. At the moment it falls roughly under the following heads:

(a) general correspondence,

(b) the compilation of a list of German importers of Irish products,

(c) reports on German economic conditions,

(d) a further section might with advantage be introduced viz: propaganda.

General correspondence is nothing more than routine work, varies in size and quality from day to day but is of no great importance.

The second heading is really important and demands a good deal of time and honest endeavour before a development of trade sets in. It is always easy to find exporters here only too anxious to flood Ireland with all sorts of goods: it is not so easy to find importers anxious to buy either raw or finished products from Ireland. It is only too obvious that concentration on the German import trade must, for a long time, be a matter of supreme importance in the relations between this office and the German trading community. It may not be generally known that Germany is, even still, one of America's best customers. Let it be hoped that Ireland will take up the running soon.

As regards economic reports (monthly, annual and special) I have only to repeat what I said in my letter of May 28th1 - that really first class up-to-date reports on special topics belong to the domain of specialists and can best be treated by them. Less pretentious reports could be prepared here.

You may think it strange that I attach importance to propaganda but I am convinced that far more attention should be paid to it than heretofore. Irish people are usually classed as 'English' here just as if they were natives of Yorkshire or Cornwall. The reasons are not too difficult to find. Our former relations with England have given the impression to the German people that Ireland was to all intents and purposes nothing more than a province of Great Britain. We have had the same legal system, the same currency and for all practical purposes the same language. It is not so easy to explain away to even an intelligent German the significant story on the passport 'British subject by birth'. If we had a language barrier we would have a great asset in our favour. It is painful to see that some well-known Irishmen of the past such as Swift, Steele, Goldsmith etc. are at once classed as English writers. Perhaps of 50 000 Germans not one knows that G.B. Shaw has any Irish connections whatever. Some German works on Finance that I have seen always refer to Prof. Bastable as 'der englische Schriftsteller' (the English writer). Now and again one finds references to Ireland - chiefly to her martial spirit. Recently she was quoted by the 'Lokal-Anzeiger' against Stresemann when he proposed to compromise with France. I venture to suggest that French pressure in the Ruhr forces the German press to select the one outstanding example where active resistance, after passing through the passive stage, was successful. It will take some time before Germany comes to realise that Ireland has really come out of the corner. It is our duty to make our status clear to the German people and not the duty of the German people to go and look for the facts.

The above outline is intended to convey that very much good can be derived from this country to the immediate advantage of Ireland but the means necessary to achieve that fuller development must be taken. For quite a long time there has been enough work for two in this office and I suggest that the Ministry might well consider the appointment of a second person to Berlin. With a division of labour and with earnest co-operation much useful work can be effected. An Irishman may be appointed, but unless he is acquainted somewhat with the country and with the language he cannot do very much progressive work until after the lapse of six months or a year. Supposing that the matter is postponed until later then it may be advisable to secure the assistance of a trained German economist who would be content to work for a very moderate salary. The salaries paid to many German officials of high rank with years experience behind them would, when converted into Pounds, astonish even those acquainted with circumstances on this side. A suitable German assistant would have the advantage of being able to readily locate sources of material and to condense very much of it in a short space of time. Most of the officials here have been trained in one or other of the various Universities of the country and in general one notices that practically the whole German Civil Service is recruited from these seats of learning. As a temporary solution I would commend this to your attention. I am not out to over-rate German ability as I hold that ability is just as high in Ireland. Of course there is in this country the narrow group of very great men (shining lights in the world) but they have sacrificed their lives to their work. I should regret that an intelligent human being should ever show the German symptoms of insatiable interest in any department of the sphere of Knowledge.

Again in order to preserve the continuity of work in this office the presence of a second person is desirable. Cases arise when I must come to the assistance of people out here on business of one sort or another. That means I have to vacate the office and consequently the sequence of work is snapped. That is readily understood as I cannot be in two places at the one time. It would indeed be desirable if some foreign visitors from Ireland learned to distinguish between a Trade Representative in the service of the Irish Free State and a commercial traveller privately employed. Not all individuals believe that the State has got its rights too.

If a good connection is to be built up then I think the sooner a second Irishman is sent out here the better. It would afford opportunities of getting into personal contact with the leading political, business, educational and artistic circles in the country and would serve, if properly used, to bring the name of Ireland most vividly before the best and most influential elements in this country. On the political side we would have very little to gain at present in Germany as the country is politically sick at heart. At the same time the British Embassy did not lose sight of the necessity for trying to have a voice, as far as possible, in moulding German foreign policy. For a long time the Berlin Foreign Office was heavily under the influence of the British Ambassador - Lord D'Abernon, whose genial smile was a greater puzzle to the wiseacres of Wilhelmstr. than the apparently inconceivable action of France when she occupied the Ruhr. However the scales have fallen from the eyes of the German politicians and they now see that 'a man may smile and smile again and still he'd be a villain'.

Ireland's interests would be along the lines of business and I can assure you that if one went about among the bigger concerns in this city one would get some very concrete business proposals that would be of interest to Ireland. My view is that German capital and technical skill should be enticed to Ireland to make up for our deficiencies in that line. In that way we may aspire to catch up rapidly on the world which is advancing at such a bewildering rate in all departments. I submit that something can be said in favour of the view.


Legal Adviser

Now and again it happens that Irish firms come to have differences, chiefly in matters of contract, with German firms of the smaller type and write here for what really amounts to legal advice. As I am unacquainted with the German legal system I cannot very well advise in such matters unless I consult a lawyer. As cases are bound to turn up periodically I would suggest that the Delegation should pay for the advice outlining the procedure to be adopted by the Irish firm but that the interested firm should meet all other expenses. Experience shows that writing begets only writing and time goes for nought. Much better to know at once what might be done than to go on an assumption that the affair will right itself somehow and sometime.

These are the main points I am asking the Ministry to consider. There are other minor items but as they are not pressing I do not refer to them in the above outline. I am submitting to your consideration a necessary minimum which sooner or later must be allowed for if this office is to be as efficient as it might well be. The fact remains that single-handed I cannot attend to everything though I have striven to do so as far as possible.

1 Not printed.

2 Not printed.

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