No. 191 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P3

Memorandum from Joseph P. Walshe to Eamon de Valera (Dublin)

Dublin, 17 June 1940

The German Minister called to see me today at 11 o'c. by appointment to make the following verbal communication.

1. The exclusive object of Germany's fight is Great Britain.

2. In pursuing this object there may be a possibility of her touching Irish interests.

3. Germany expects a real understanding of that position on the part of Ireland but without expecting Ireland to injure her neutrality.

4. The outcome of the struggle will be of definite importance for the definite fulfilment of Irish national aims.

In communicating the foregoing the German Minister said that he had of course kept his Government informed of the developments of events in Ireland, particularly since the Held affair.1 He could not help noticing a certain deterioration in our neutrality attitude. The speeches made by Messrs. Dillon,2 Mulcahy3 and O'Higgins4 pointed especially to Germany as the probable invader. He had noted Mr. Dillon's remark about some special knowledge which he said he possessed to the effect that Germany was to be the invader. The Minister said he distinguished between the Taoiseach's remarks about Holland and Belgium which were based on the general principle that the territory of small nations must not be violated, and the definitely anti-German statements of the deputies mentioned.

The German Minister was very friendly. He said he understood perfectly the difficulties of our position. I explained to him that the measures taken by you were essential for establishment of the unity of the nation. You were desirous above all things to protect our people from the disastrous effects of the war being fought out in Ireland. You earnestly hoped that neither belligerent would violate our territory. Dr. Hempel said he felt sure such was not Germany's intention, but he could not ask his Government ? as I had suggested ? to make a statement saying they would not make use of Irish territory in their attack on England. That would be tantamount to a partial revealing of their plans to the enemy.

1 In the course of a raid on the house of Stephen Carroll Held in Dublin on 23 May 1940 Gardaí found evidence of German-IRA co-operation including a parachute, a large sum of United States dollars, coded messages and evidence of 'Plan Kathleen', a projected German operation in Northern Ireland. The raid failed to capture German spy Herman Görtz who had been using Held's residence as a safe house.

2 James Dillon (1902-86), TD for Monaghan (Fine Gael/Independent), leader of Fine Gael (1959-65); resigned from Fine Gael in 1942 over Ireland's wartime neutrality and urged that Ireland join the Allies.

3 General Richard Mulcahy (1887-1971), Fine Gael TD for Dublin North-East; former Chief of Staff of the IRA, Commander in Chief of the National Army and Minister for Defence (1922-4); leader of Fine Gael (1944-59); Minister for Education (1948-51, 1954-7)

4 Dr Thomas F. O'Higgins (1890-1953), Fine Gael TD for Laois-Offaly; brother of Kevin O'Higgins; founder member of the Army Comrades Association (the Blueshirts) in 1932; Minister for Defence (1948-51).

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