No. 244  NAI DFA Secretary's Files P12/3

Personal code telegram from William Warnock to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(No. 111)

BERLIN, 20 November 1942

Official circles here have been so reticent regarding events in North Africa that it is difficult to report.

The Anglo-American invasion, trustworthy source thinks, was a complete surprise and astounded the public; they had been expecting attack on Dakar. Far deeper, however, was the effect of the defeat of Rommel; this was totally unexpected, as Rommel has become almost legendary figure.

No blame is attributable to Germany for French inability to resist American action in the Western Mediterranean, but Rommel's reverse was great blow to German pride and caused moral depression at home.

The public has now recovered; people feel Rommel may yet establish himself on firm footing, and arrival of Axis troops in Tunisia shows the Allies will not have things all their own way. Popular comment is that the Allies may have bitten off something very difficult to digest, as it will be no easy matter to keep their armies supplied. Nevertheless, people here have had bad shock, and they are doubtful of Italian powers of resistance.

The diplomatic correspondent of 'Boersenzeitung' comments that, in future, American and British Consuls must be everywhere regarded as spies. Neutrality of no country safe unless it suits the Allies' policy. It would not be surprising if they were stiffening their attitude towards Switzerland and Sweden. Despite assertions to the contrary, every advance by America means lessening of British power and influence.

The Taoiseach's last speech concerning our determination to maintain neutrality was widely reported.1

1 Speaking at a military gathering in Longford on 8 November de Valera told his audience that: 'We wish ill to nobody; we want nothing from anybody but that for which we have fought in the past – our freedom' and added 'we want to preserve the freedom we have got… we wish well to every nation' (Irish Times, 9 Nov. 1942).

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