No. 162 NAI DFA ES Box 34 File 241

Cornelius Duane to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

BERLIN, 13 November 1923

A Chara,

If my present letter contains the element of surprise the explanation is due to the extraordinary pressure of present circumstances which force me to request you to be good enough to transfer me from Berlin to some other part of the foreign service or to recall me to Dublin.

During the last six weeks the cost-of-living went so high that I was barely able to make ends meet with my present salary but the last fortnight ushered in such an upward price-wave that financial embarrassment and, to a minor extent, hunger loom in the immediate future. I do not propose to ask you, by way of solution, for a further increase of salary because money is no reward for the physical strain to which one is at present subject in this city. I should infinitely prefer an immediate recall to Dublin where the whole situation could be reviewed - eliminating from the discussion the possibility of my return to Berlin. Unfortunately as I am forced to live virtually in restaurants and as all price increases in food-stuffs are immediately reflected in these places I find that life is now on the verge of being unbearable. Just imagine 5 goldmarks for a cutlet or 4 goldmarks for 'ham and eggs', both of which cost about one goldmark six months ago. I am selecting two very ordinary examples but other prices stand well up to this standard. It may seem that, with billions of papermarks, one could find a temporary solution but such is not the case. The money swindle in Berlin has long ago gone beyond the bounds of an art: it may be classed as a perfect Science. Take the last week as an example. On Saturday the official rate of the Pound, as fixed by the Reichsbank, was 2 900 000 000 000 marks but in spite of all the regulations I succeeded in getting 6 billions for a Pound or in other words more than twice the official rate. Yesterday the Pound stood at the same official level yet I got exactly twice the amount. Were it not for such strokes of luck I would have written this letter a week earlier. Of course shop-keepers and restaurant-proprietors see the swindle and fix prices in gold marks well above the level in many other foreign cities. Speculation has therefore been stimulated and is now wilder than ever. The active speculator buys dollars in Berlin at the official rate and sells next day in Prague, Danzig or Amsterdam at four times the official rate, returns to Berlin, buys again, repeats the journey and so on. As my position is not that of an exchange speculator I have got to face the higher cost-of-living without any special reserves at my disposal capable of meeting it.

The political unrest does not worry me in the least because, as far as my knowledge goes, the various revolutions described in the English and auxiliary Irish press have not in reality taken place. The English press is looking merely for sensational headlines and at the moment Germany is the best hunting ground for such. The Irish ambush has given way to the German 'revolution' with this important difference - the ambush was a reality but the German revolutions are unrealities. Generally speaking such universal unrest does not contribute to anything in the nature of economic or industrial progress but it cannot last indefinitely and a distracted Europe must ultimately make up its mind to secure order as a preliminary to progress. How long Germany remains in the melting-pot is a problem not readily answered even by experts.

The political structure of Germany has been shattered and the economic has been in agony since 1918. The very obvious signs of hunger and want moving side by side with luxury cannot but create a despondent feeling on any unprejudiced observer. Added to this I find that the feeling of solitude and the losing of touch with Dublin intensify the gloom and force me to take refuge in flight from an impossible position. I had hopes of being able to continue this veritable rear-guard action some time longer but I find the moment has now come when an immediate capitulation is the only hope. On no account can I see my way to stay on any longer than December 15th. Physical endurance does not permit me to prolong the period.

I need hardly say that my cash resources are low at the moment and estimated expenses in connection with my retiral would be as follows:

Salary for November ........................£ 25.-.-
   "    up to December 15th ..............." 12.10.-
Travelling expenses .......................... " 20.-.-
total  £ 57.10.-

I must ask the Ministry to notice this matter and in particular that my salary does not allow me to make any outlay for travelling expenses. At the moment the Government Account stands at about £ 8.- but this sum would hardly be enough to cover all expenses up to December 15th. An extra sum of about 5 or 6 £ may suffice but that is a matter which can be settled during the next few weeks.

In conclusion I have to thank the Ministry for the confidence it placed in me in appointing me to take charge of this office and hope that I may be deemed worthy to enjoy that same confidence in some other part of the service. At the same time I have to express my regret for any inconvenience that I may cause the Ministry when I ask to be removed at such short notice from Berlin.

As the contents of this letter are of interest to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce I am forwarding that Ministry a copy.

Le meas mór,
[initialled] C Ó D

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