No. 230 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P3

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(Most Secret)

Dublin, 18 July 1940

Dr. Hempel called to see me today, and remained for over two and a half hours. The main object of his visit was to emphasise Germany's intention not to violate our neutrality, and, above all, not to invade Ireland. He said that, at the time he last saw the Taoiseach, he had not been free to speak as clearly as he was now. He could now speak quite definitely and reaffirm in the strongest way the attitude just described. He felt, during his talk with the Taoiseach, that there was still in the Taoiseach's mind an element of suspicion with regard to Germany's intentions. He was most anxious at the time of the conversation to dissipate these suspicions.

I suggested to Dr. Hempel that it was natural that the Taoiseach should still be suspicious at the time of the conversation to which he referred, as he (Dr. Hempel) had said that, notwithstanding his conviction that there would be no attack on our neutrality, he could not say so openly and explicitly for strategic reasons. I was very glad that he had given us the new assurances on 6th July,1 and again today, which contained no reservations whatever. He must always remember that the Held case gave the very gravest occasion for suspecting Germany's intentions about this country.

Dr. Hempel's reaction to my mention of the Held case was what it always has been – that, whatever the truth may have been, it was an extremely unfortunate incident for the relations between the two countries. But, whatever about the past and whatever suspicions had been created, he was now able to affirm without reservations (on account of the definiteness of his last instructions) that our neutrality would continue to be respected by Germany so long as we did not tolerate any violation of it by the other belligerent. Incidentally, he would like to remind me that there was a great deal of anti-Irish propaganda in the British Press, and in that section of the Press in America which was controlled by Britain; whilst in Germany, neither on the radio nor in the Press, was there anything but a friendly attitude towards this country. It was unfortunate that a certain number of people who were known to be friendly to Germany had been imprisoned in this country.

I replied to this last remark that the people he referred to were not in prison because they were friends of Germany, but because – even before the war began – they had been plotting to overthrow the existing State set up by the majority of the Irish people. It was, of course, natural that any group plotting to overthrow the State would be ready to seek the help of an external Power, and, in putting these men in prison, the Government was only carrying out its primary duty of defending the State which was the only bulwark between the people and chaos. Dr. Hempel would realise that there was no country in which the defence of the fabric of the State against internal enemies was so well understood as in Germany.

Dr. Hempel left expressing the hope that nothing would occur on the German or the Irish side in future which would interfere with our good relations, and he urged me to keep our Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin2 as fully informed as possible of the Government's firmness in the matter of neutrality.

[initialled] J.P.W.

1 See No. 216.

2 William Warnock.

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