No. 64  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A24

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Hugh C. Brady (Dublin)

DUBLIN, 20 May 1941

Dear Mr. Brady,

I have your letter of the 19th May,1 concerning the matters arising out of the Defence Conference held on Wednesday, 14th May.

1. I myself heard the broadcast in question. It was also heard by Dr. Rynne of our Department. I had already been informed by telegram from Washington that the 'Washington Post' had published an item to the effect that German planes had dropped leaflets over Dublin threatening to bomb the city should we continue to help the people across the Border. The German broadcast referred to the item in the 'Washington Post', and strongly denied that they had dropped any leaflets in Ireland or threatened any reprisals on the Irish people for help given to their fellow-countrymen. The broadcast went on 'If, however, the report of the "Washington Post” and the false assertion that Germany intends to bomb Ireland should be aimed at preparing the way for a new "Athenia”2crime in the form of English bombing of Irish territory so that the crime may later be attributed to Germany, then the world is sufficiently informed of such a Churchill plan by the crude manoeuvre of the "Washington Post”.'

Your Minister3 should also know that the German Minister has never at any time made any protest against our action. On the contrary, he said to me that it was a perfectly natural thing to do.

2. The German Minister has not evacuated his family to Achill. I was at lunch there today and had ocular evidence of the untruth of the assertion. The German Minister was, it is true, recently on a short holiday in the west of Ireland, and he stayed one or two nights in Achill. It is possible that while there he made enquiries about the possibility of sending his family there some time during the summer.

We have no precise details of the air-raid damage in Belfast, but we have heard general descriptions from several people, most of them agreeing on one point, viz., that during the second raid a great deal of industrial property was seriously damaged and that about one-fifth part of the city bears marks of the raid. It may be possible that the Defence Department have more exact information.

1 Not printed.

2 The sinking of the liner Athenia (13,500 tons) by U-39 on 3 September 1939 began the Battle of the Atlantic. Twenty-eight United States citizens were killed. Germany refused to admit responsibility and initially blamed Britain, explaining that Britain wished to use the sinking to bring the United States into the Second World War.

3 Frank Aiken TD, Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures.

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