No. 126 NAI DFA 219/4

Extracts from a confidential report from William Warnock to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Berlin, 8 February 1940

The execution of the two members of the I.R.A. in Birmingham yesterday is reported in the most prominent position in the leading German newspapers this morning, and was also given more space in the evening papers last night. It so happened that on the same day, Dr. Roos,1 the leader of the Alsatian autonomists was executed in France, and this gave the German Press an excellent opportunity to expose the Western Powers' hypocrisy where the Freedom of small nations is concerned.

Early yesterday morning Dr. Wissmann of the Press Section of the Foreign Office phoned to tell me that he had just received the Havas report of the execution. He was very surprised, as it was expected in the Foreign Office that the British would relent at the last moment.

I was at an official reception for the Diplomatic Corps in the Japanese Embassy yesterday, and amazement at the British action was expressed on all sides, even by such cautious people as the Swiss and the Scandinavians. The Germans are astounded that the British should have voluntarily furnished them with such magnificent material for propaganda. Dr. Wissmann told me during our telephone conversation that he would see to it that the affair got full publicity both in the press and over the wireless, and he was as good as his word.

[matter omitted]

The wireless reported the executions in the next news bulletin after they had taken place, and described them of yet another example of British oppression. A long comment was made in the news service in English.

I also heard the Italian news in English last evening. The executions were dealt with most unsympathetically from our point of view. The original explosion at Coventry was referred to as a 'dastardly explosion', and the speaker said that the men 'went to the scaffold' repentant.

[signed] W. Warnock

1 Dr Phillipe Roos was executed in Nancy, France, on 7 February 1940 having been found guilty of espionage.

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