No. 355  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A2

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe for Eamon de Valera (Dublin)
'The German Wireless Transmitter'

DUBLIN, 15 December 1943

I spoke to the German Minister today about his wireless transmitter. I acknowledged that, so far as we knew, he had not been using it for a long time, but I strongly emphasised that, so long as there was a wireless transmitter in the German Legation, it constituted a positive danger to our neutrality. The whole world was talking about a Second Front, and it was obvious to everybody that the supreme crisis of the war was at hand. He would remember the ugly things that were said in the British Press about the use of his wireless at the time the two German battleships1 passed through the English Channel. How much greater the outcry was likely to be during the launching of a Second Front when the Allies would regard the passing on of the simplest bit of information as constituting a grave menace to them. The British Representative was constantly reminding us of the dangerous possibility of the German Minister using his wireless for such a purpose. Indeed, hardly a week passed when we did not receive such a warning. I could tell him quite frankly and in the most friendly way that the presence of a wireless transmitter in the German Legation was giving us more worry in our relations with the British and American Governments than any other factor in our many-sided dealings with these two Governments.

As the crisis of the war drew nearer, my Minister and I felt that at any moment we might receive from these two Governments an ultimatum calling upon our Government to give his papers to the German Minister. He (Dr. Hempel) knew very well that that was a situation which we did not want to court, and we believed that it was one which could hardly favour the interests of the German Government however different their motives might be from ours. My Minister had already spoken to him about this matter, and he now felt that the time had come to make a formal request of the German Minister to hand over the wireless transmitter.

Dr. Hempel said he would have to consult his own people about this matter. Indeed, since his talk with my Minister, he had already referred it to his authorities. In any case he said he would prefer to destroy the transmitter rather than to hand it over.

In that case, I replied, we must ask him to allow an expert witness to be present during the destruction so that we may have formal expert evidence of the destruction. Then only should we be in a position to protect ourselves against the demands and protests which are growing daily more threatening.

Dr. Hempel said that, if he gave up his wireless transmitter, he would feel that he had given up everything. Indeed he would feel that there was hardly any part of himself as German Minister left at all.

To this I replied that he, in fact, had no right to have a wireless transmitter, that it was not allowed in any country in time of war. For that reason it was a luxury, something intrinsic to himself and anything but a legitimate part of his diplomatic apparatus.

We both remained in quite good humour during this conversation, and I feel that the German Minister understands that the wireless could become a menace to his own position here and that he will urge upon his Government the need for giving it up to us or destroying it. In fact, I should venture the opinion that, if they do not allow him to get rid of the wireless, it will be a sign that our neutrality has ceased to have any value for them.

1 See No. 184

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