No. 219 NAI DFA 19/50

Confidential report from Charles Bewley to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Berlin, 26 February 1934

In1 further reference to my minute of the 23rd January2 on the relation of the German Government to the Churches, it would appear that difficulties with the Catholic Church may possibly arise. The recent appointment of Alfred Rosenberg3 as Reichsleiter f?tur und Weltanschauung was obviously and naturally resented by the Holy See, which, as you will have seen, retorted by placing his book 'The Myth of the XXth Century' on the Index. That it was justified in doing so is of course beyond all doubt: the book, as I have already indicated, is a tissue of violent and unhistorical attacks on the Church. On 22nd February Dr Rosenberg gave an address, to which the heads of foreign missions were invited, on 'A new Philosophy', in which he attacked Cardinal Faulhaber on the ground that the latter had stated that it was useless to be rescued from Russian barbarism if the country was only to relapse into Germanic savagery. The Cardinal did in fact make some observations of the kind, in which he expressed a similar idea in perhaps rather untactful terms. Dr Rosenberg further stated that anyone who entered the National-Socialist party ceased as a member of that party to be Protestant or Catholic, and had only the religion of ?national honour', although as an individual his particular beliefs were respected. He also said that the ministers of religion who attacked the party should remember that, if it were not for the party, they would not now be able to preach in their churches.

While admitting the probable truth of the last sentiment, as in a Communist or even strongly Socialist Germany it is certain that there would have been a persecution of religion, one cannot help feeling that the misgivings of the Holy See are to a great extent justified, especially as the Youth Leader, Baldur von Schirach, recently stated in a speech that before the end of 1934 the Catholic youth organisations would have been dissolved and the youth incorporated in the Hitlerjugend. The only question is whether Hitler himself is in favour of this campaign, or is merely allowing some of his lieutenants a certain latitude to give expression to their personal views. It may or may not be of significance that he had been officially announced some weeks before as intending to be present at the Rosenberg address, but that on the evening his 'Stellvertreter' Rudolf Hess4 announced that he had been prevented from attending by an important foreign visit. On the following day it was published in all the papers with photographs that he had attended a skating competition and presented a bouquet to the Norwegian champion Sonja Henie.

But, whatever be the views or the ultimate intentions of the Chancellor himself, there can be no doubt of the strongly anti-Catholic tendency of many more or less influential members of the Party. A couple of days ago at a dinner given by the Chief of the Staff of the NSDAP, Röhm,5 I had the opportunity of talking to the chief writer on the Volkischer Beobachter under Rosenberg. He is himself a Catholic, but would obviously, while regretting the necessity, support the German Government whole-heartedly in any conflict with the Holy See. His attitude was that it was to be hoped that the Holy See would show its usual flexibility and acquiesce in the policy of the Government whatever it might be, but that the Government could not possibly give up some measures as the Sterilization Law, which were to it articles of faith. He stated of course that Rosenberg's expressions of opinion were personal, but did not deny that his position made them more important than the expressions of opinion of a private individual. He also anticipated that the Catholic youth would be incorporated with the rest, but said that their religion would naturally be respected. I pointed out that the general atmosphere would almost certainly be one which the Church would consider dangerous. He only expressed the hope that it would not prove to be so.

We had a conversation incidentally on the subject of Ireland, and he said that they had thought of procuring a special correspondent in Dublin, as they had been somewhat misled on the subject of the 'Blueshirts'. I said that Irish news was always strongly tendentious owing to the fact that it came from English sources. He agreed that this was so, and said rather frankly, 'But after all England is our only possible ally: why should we run any risks for the sake of Ireland which is very remote from us?' I said that no country would expect another country to sacrifice material advantages for it on sentimental grounds, but that I could not help thinking the German faith in an English alliance somewhat pathetic, as it was now as far off as it had ever been, even after all the efforts which Germany had made to stand on England's good graces. He said that Germany had no possible ally but England and Italy, and I had to admit that Italy now seemed a somewhat slender chance.

The conversation entirely confirmed the general impression which I had already obtained, namely, that, unless we are able to show the German Government the hope of some definite and considerable material advantage, as for instance an increased export to Ireland of some millions of pounds under the proposal at present submitted by the German Minister in Dublin,6 it is useless to hope for small concessions or even for reasonable equity in our dealings, as there is always at the back of the mind of the negotiators the consideration that England must not be offended, and while it might be worth running the risk for £10,000,000 it certainly would not for 2 or 3 millions. This was however the first occasion on which the point of view has been admitted to me.

[signed] C. Bewley

1 Marginal note: 'Seen by Secy. who brought final paragraphs to President's notice. S.G.M. 2/5'.

2 Not printed.

3 Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946), editor of Nazi Party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter, convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg Trials and executed (1946).

4 Rudolf Hess (1894-1987), Hitler's deputy as Nazi Party leader, flew to Scotland in May 1941, imprisoned, tried at Nuremburg (1946) for crimes against peace, and sentenced to life imprisonment at Spandau Prison.

5 Ernst Röhm (1887-1934), appointed S.A. commander (1930), Minister without Portfolio from 1933, killed during the 'night of the long knives' (1934).

6 Georg von Dehn Schmidt, German Consul-General in Dublin (1924-30), Chargé d'Affaires in Dublin (1930), German Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary to Ireland (1930-34).

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