No. 269 NAI DFA 205/4

Confidential report from William Warnock to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(76/30) (205/4)

Berlin, 20 August 1940

After the entry of Italy into the war, and the collapse of France soon afterwards, I suspended sending press reviews as, firstly, it was doubtful if postal connections with Ireland could be maintained at all, and secondly, weekly reports would be of little interest in view of the long period between the occurrence of events mentioned and the probable time of arrival of mail in Ireland. Events move so quickly that it is well-nigh impossible to determine which happenings are really of permanent importance.

One thing may be said quite definitely concerning the attitude of the German press; and that is: the tone used in reference to Ireland has never been inimical, and it has often been very friendly. I know from my personal acquaintance with members of the Foreign Office that official circles are anxious to avoid incidents which would displease us. Certain utterances by Irish political leaders have been resented by the Foreign Office, but, although the matter was raised with you through the German Minister in Dublin, no mention was made of them in the German press. This is all the more interesting when one recalls that any remark savouring of unfriendliness towards Germany made by – say – a Swiss or Swedish politician or newspaper calls forth a stern rebuke in the German press at once.

I have already reported to you by telegraph regarding the attention given to Ireland in the Press at the beginning of July, when it was reported in British and some American newspapers that Great Britain was endeavouring to come to some agreement with us which would enable her to gain the use of our territory and ports for her own defence.1 In this case the German press confined itself entirely to reports which had come to the United States from Great Britain. The version given over the British wireless (I have not seen any British newspapers for some months past) of what was alleged to have appeared in the German press was quite misleading – and inaccurate. The press campaign for the violation of our neutrality seems to have been started by the British themselves.

Much attention is paid abroad to the leading articles in the 'Berliner Boersen-Zeitung', which is often said to be the mouthpiece of the Foreign Office. I doubt whether under existing circumstances any one newspaper is favoured by official circles more than another; they are all subject to the same control. Be that as it may, it is of interest to note that while the Diplomatic Correspondent of this newspaper, Dr. Karl Megerle, has told his readers on a few occasions that Great Britain was seeking an opportunity to occupy strategic points in Ireland, he has never thrown any doubts on the sincerity of our Government, nor has he ever questioned our attitude in any private conversations which I have had with him.

Since the beginning of July Ireland has not occupied much space in the German press. The matters which have since received most publicity have been, apart from the Chancellor's peace offer before the Reichstag, the complete collapse in France ensuing on military defeat, and articles on inner conditions in Great Britain intended to show the social inequalities existing under the liberal capitalist system, nothing more than a desperate effort on the part of a comparatively small number of people to maintain their wealth and the influence which it brings with it.

In view of the amazing run of German successes there is practically no need for me to portray current feeling here. Everyone is proud. The prohibition on dancing at present in force helps to preserve the general calm atmosphere. There is, in fact, a certain dignity in the attitude of the population as a whole. Things are going well with the man-in-the-street. The summer has brought abundant food, and a surprisingly large number of people managed to get away for short holidays.

[signed] W. Warnock

1 See Nos 212, 214, 216, 223, 231 and 232.

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO