No. 399 NAI DFA EA 231/4/B

Confidential Report from Daniel A. Binchy to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)1
(52/29) (Secret)

Berlin, 21 August 1930

With reference to your minute of the 18th inst.,2 I am now in a position to give you some further information about the circumstances surrounding Herr von Dehn's appointment as Minister.

2. I met Herr de Haas at one of the functions connected with the German Constitution Day and managed to have a short conversation with him about the matter. He left no doubt whatever in my mind that Dehn's appointment was decided upon as a result of the strong representations made by me to Herr von Bülow during our interview on June 23rd, the details of which I have given you orally. Up to that time, he said, Baron von Ow-Wachendorf, who was being energetically pushed by the Centre Party, was the favourite for the post. The Centre Party felt very disappointed that he had not been nominated, and he, de Haas, had had some unpleasant moments with Prälat Dr. Schreiber, one of its leaders. In self-defence, he said, he had been compelled to tell him that the Irish Government had expressed a wish that Dehn should be appointed. It is impossible to blame de Haas for this, as he was quite within his rights in telling it, but it is not going to make my position as regards the Zentrum very pleasant.

3. I noticed since my return that Wachendorf, usually the soul of friendliness, was avoiding me. He did not ring up once about any matter, but got one of his juniors to transact any necessary business on the telephone. For every reason this worried me, for apart entirely from our personal friendship he has been a most useful man for the Legation. So last Saturday I rang him up and asked him to lunch with me alone here on Tuesday. He came along and seemed as friendly as ever, only he said nothing whatever about Dehn's appointment. Finally when we had reached the liqueur stage, I referred to it casually. Wachendorf merely said, somewhat stiffly: 'Dehn is a very lucky man, a great many rules had to be broken in order to make him Minister in Dublin'. I said I assumed he was alluding to the rule that a Consul-General was not usually appointed Minister in the same capital, and spoke of Blanche's transfer to Bogota. 'Oh yes', said Wachendorf without stopping to think, 'we proposed the same thing for Dehn, but he fought it and his friends backed him up'. Next moment he recollected himself and begged me not to repeat this, as it was a Foreign Office secret. I gave the usual specious promise, but I do not feel in the least scrupulous about reporting it to you, as naturally Wachendorf is solely concerned to keep it from the ears of Dehn and his friends, and it cannot possibly harm him that you should hear it.

4. You will be amused to hear that there is a rumour among his colleagues in the Foreign Office that Dehn is becoming a Catholic. Wachendorf asked me if it was true, and of course I merely said that I had heard nothing about it. I leave you to decide whether the rumour originated in the solicitude with which Dehn cultivates Catholic circles in Dublin or in a well-timed effort to create a suitable Stimmung here. At all events, I cannot help recollecting Mgr. Boylan's bon-mot at a luncheon-party during which Dehn entertained us with a list of his visits to various Bishops in Germany: 'Herr Generalkonsul, Sie werden zum Schluss römisch werden' - and then, just as Dehn was beginning to purr, he added dryly 'im Interesse des Reiches natürlich'.

5. Although I gave him several openings, Wachendorf never once alluded to his own candidature directly. But from his general conversation I could see that he is anxious to get a post abroad and in this connection the following is significant. He is coming to Geneva during the meeting of the Assembly solely for the purpose of meeting General Hertzog and trying to settle some outstanding questions between Germany and the Union.3 He commented on the strange delay of the Union Government in appointing a Minister here and said he hoped that that question might be settled also. Later he spoke of Pretoria, asking me if I knew anything about it, and saying that he had heard it was a delightful place, 'only so far away from everything'. Apparently he is willing to take South Africa as pis aller.

6. He is going to spend the interval before coming to the Assembly electioneering for the Centre Party in East Prussia. I always knew he was a member of that Party, but he has never come out so openly before. As you know, German Civil Servants may be active members of a political party, but in general there is a convention in the diplomatic branch that the members shall take no active part in politics. This convention has not been invariably observed in the past, and it is doubtless the overwhelming importance of the forthcoming elections which is inducing Wachendorf to break it also. He believes the Zentrum will strengthen its position, possibly winning some extra seats, and will continue to control the political situation. He spoke once more of arranging for me to meet some of the leaders of the Party at a dinner in his house during the winter ('If I am still here', he added). Up to this, I most carefully avoided being brought into close touch with them, as I knew they would try to use me against Dehn's appointment. But now that the latter is secure, I feel it would be advisable to get into contact with them, and I am sure you share my view.

7. It is, of course, not my province to decide whether the appointment of Dehn instead of Wachendorf represents a gain or a loss. I have never made any secret of the fact that I find Wachendorf personally much the more likeable of the two. To this must be added his religion, his family (one of the oldest in South Germany), and his charming wife. On the other hand, his interest in Ireland is probably nothing like as genuine as Dehn's. To him the Dublin Legation might only seem the sure stepping stone to the London Embassy. Further, his old associations with Oxford and England and his Anglophile tendency in politics might possibly cause him to fall into the wrong hands in Dublin and to become a second edition of Sterling.4 We have ample proof that Dehn is immune from such dangers. In choosing him - I think this sums up the whole situation - we have played for safety. Probably we were right.

[signed] D.A. Binchy

1 Handwritten marginal note: 'PMcG 26/8'.

2 Not printed.

3 See No. 160.

4 Frederick A. Sterling, the United States Minister to Dublin.

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