No. 327  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A26

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

DUBLIN, 4 October 1943

  1. On the 21st May last, we had an official note from the German Minister setting out six cases in which American or British aircraft which had landed here had been released, and asking for information 'regarding the circumstances and reasons which led to the release of these 'planes, their crews and, in the cases concerned, their passengers.'1
  2. We have not yet replied to this note to which we have since received two reminders. Intrinsically, there is no reason now why we should not reply to the note and we have a complete and satisfactory answer to it in the line:-
    1. We have been if anything over-strict in interning 'planes which landed here. We have interned in cases in which, we know, other neutrals did not intern.
    2. In individual cases, a neutral state must consider the question of internment not merely from the point of view of the question whether international law obliges it to intern, but also from the point of view of the question whether international law, as established by definitely adopted rule or the general practice of neutrals, gives it a right to intern.
    3. In each of the cases referred to in the German Minister's note, the 'plane and its crew were released because, taking into account the character of the complement, the type and equipment of the 'plane, or the circumstances in which the 'plane came to land in this country, a decision to intern could not have been justified by reference to any established rule of international law or the practice of other neutrals in the present war.
  3. There is no reason why a reply to the German note on these lines should not be drafted and sent at once, and it is, perhaps, preferable that the German note should be replied to before the proposed releases of some of the British airmen interned here are effected, which will be very soon now. In the meantime, the Germans are in no position to complain of the delay in replying to the note having regard to their own failure to reply to notes from us regarding the dropping of bombs in Wicklow and Terenure in 1940 and 1941, and various notes presented by Warnock two or three years ago about attacks on Irish ships and the sinking of non-Irish ships carrying cargoes for this country, as well as the facts that the German authorities have not yet paid anything on foot of the Campile claim presented nearly two years ago or on account of the maintenance expenses of the German internees in this country, which have been presented regularly since the first crew was interned here in 1940.

1 Not printed.

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