No. 108 NAI DFA 105/46

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Charles Bewley (Berlin)
(Copy) (Secret)

Dublin, 2 December 1937

Your minute of the 13th November No. 43/33 relating to your instructions as to the change in the name of the State has been received1.

It would naturally be an opportunity for a visit by you to the Secretary of State. No doubt you have already had conversations with officials of the Foreign Office on the general purport of the new Constitution. The Minister assumes that your visits to the Foreign Office are relatively frequent and that you talk with the officials or with the Secretary of State about current matters. The obvious points on which explanations are asked for by Ministers accredited to this Government relate chiefly to the new position of the King and the position of the President of Ireland. These and any other explanations, which are clear from the text itself or from the text in the light of the President's speeches, you are in a position to give without special instructions. It would be useful to have a report on your conversation with the Foreign Office. When informing the German Government of the change of the name of the State, you should not emphasise the Irish form. The change of name would not, of course, have the same political or national significance if 'Éire' were to be used by foreigners. As you are aware, it is the hope of everybody in this country that the use of 'Ireland' to describe the Twenty-six Counties will have a definite psychological effect in favour of the unity of this country on both Irish and foreign minds.

When talking on Constitutional matters with German officials you will be careful not to exaggerate what you describe as 'freedom from domination by England'. As you say in another report (7th October 1937)2, the tone of which the Minister has some difficulty in understanding, the British still impose penal duties on our goods, still occupy our ports and still maintain our country divided. These things are not being changed by the Constitution, but the latter does represent the maximum effort of the Irish people to provide themselves with their own fundamental law and to secure for themselves complete internal sovereignty within the Twenty-six County area. If you are asked by a German official or by the Secretary of State what Ireland's position would be in the case of a war between Germany and Great Britain, you should naturally reply that such an event was too terrible to contemplate, and you must refuse to discus what our attitude would be. If, on the other hand, you are asked what Ireland's position would be if England were at war with Power X, there would be no reason why you should not reply in the form set out in your paragraph 4. The Minister would like you to be very careful to remember in all you say to German officials regarding our political position that they would have no scruple in repeating your statements to the British Ambassador or his officials if they thought the slightest advantage could be obtained thereby for Germany. The general atmosphere, notwithstanding the continuance of several really bad factors in our relations with Great Britain, is better, and - as I told you once before - that improvement began with the elimination of Mr. Thomas. It is hoped that an approach to a solution of the major difficulties, with the exception of Partition, between ourselves and Great Britain may be found during the next few months. And as the goodwill of important British officials would be a useful factor in obtaining a better settlement, the Minister desires our Representatives abroad to be careful to maintain relations of a relatively friendly character with the Heads of the British Missions.

It is noted in one of your reports that you speak of having seen the British Ambassador for the first and the last time. While there is no need to pay very much attention to the person or opinions of the British Ambassador, he should generally be regarded as a person whose influence could be used against us, and as realists governing a very small country the Government desire to avoid anything which might militate in the smallest degree against their securing to their people the best possible settlement with Great Britain. In this connection, it would be useful for the Minister to know what your precise relations are with the present British Ambassador in Berlin, and whether your relations with him or the Chargé d'Affaires are different from your relations with British officials in Rome. What is the extent of the British Ambassador's influence with the German Government?

The Minister would like to have a long comprehensive report from you going back over the international events of the past few months in relation to Germany, and also setting out generally, though comprehensively, the present position of the Churches in Germany. Press reports here tend to indicate that the Christian religion (Protestants and Catholics) is continuing to suffer persecution in Germany, and that there is a real danger of the new State succeeding in eliminating the practice of formal religion, at least, from the lives of the new generation.

(Signed) J.P. Walshe

1 Not printed. Bewley's minute of 13 November can be found on file NAI DFA 247/14; it repeats the request for instructions given in his reports of 28 September 1937 (No. 91 above) and 7 October 1937 (No. 95 above).

2 See document No. 95

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