Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Anyone with access to RTÉ1 should be looking for this:

Ireland's Nazis

In this two-part series, veteran broadcaster Cathal O'Shannon sets out on a journey across three continents to uncover the true story of Ireland's Nazis.

That's tonight, Tuesday 9th January.

A taster for the programme was Nicola Tallant's piece in the (Irish edition) of the Sunday Times:
De Valera helped Nazi war criminal. The subjects in question will apparently be:
  • Célestin Lainé, leader of a Waffen SS unit, the Bezen Perrot, who adopted the usual methods for suppressing occupied Brittany.
  • Andrija Artukovic, who, as the Nazi gauleiter for Croatia, did for as many as a million in death camps. O’Shannon maintains the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs refuse to release their file on "Alois Annick" (the alias Artukovik adopted to live in south Dublin during 1947-8, before emigrating to California). The subtext here is whether the Vatican had any input.
  • Pieter Menten, a Dutchman war-criminal (and, some claim, art-thief) who had a nice mansion in the County Waterford.
Malcolm assumes that O'Shannon is more than just a namesake of the Ulster IRB-man and Connolly-associate (1889-1969) who was interned in 1916-7, re-arrested and went in hunger strike, sacked from the Irish Socialist Party for opposing the link with the Third International, who served briefly as a Labour minister in the Second Dáil, and had an active lifetime achievement in trade unionism and journalism.

Malcolm has already drawn attention to the — ahem! — ambiguous attitude of De Valera to fascist and totalitarian régimes (as on last 29th August, in regard to Brian Girvin's book on The Emergency).

He also notes that there was quite a contingent of "good" Germans in Ireland after the War. There were, notably, the Bielenbergs farming in the County Carlow. At least one former German Minister was residing in Blackrock, and travelling for the German War Graves commission. West Cork seemed already to have attracted a small contingent (or were they all, as they seemed to maintain, Dutch and Afrikaaner?). All in all, it is hardly surprising that a few less desirables snuck in (or, perhaps, as O'Shannon seems to propose, even were infiltrated by "sympathetic" international spookery).

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Dan Leach said...

In articles entitled "De Valera helped Nazi war criminal" in The Sunday Times, and "How Dev's Ireland became safe haven for fugitive Nazis" in the Sunday Independent (Ireland), I am quoted regarding Irish postwar asylum cases. Both articles are by Nicola Tallant and appear in the January 7th editions, using the forthcoming documentary series Ireland's Nazis. Both articles are also, unfortunately, wrong and misrepresentative in several important areas.

This is my actual quote from the script of Ireland's Nazis (Programme One), courtesy Tile Films:

"The former head of the Breton nationalist party Raymond Delaporte reportedly had an interview with De Valera in which De Valera advised him to continue using the aliases with which he’d entered Ireland so that then if the French asked De Valera is this man in the country De Valera could truthfully answer “NO”."

That became this in The Sunday Times article:

"Dan Leach of the University of Melbourne reveals that the former head of the Breton Nationalist Party met de Valera to discuss Lainé. 'De Valera advised him (that Lainé should) continue using his alias so that if the French asked him if Lainé was in the country he could truthfully answer ‘no’,' Leach said."

Two different people; two different subjects of discussion. There is no evidence De Valera ever met Bezen Perrot leader and militant Breton collaborator Célestin Lainé (aka Neven Henaff). The discussion was between De Valera and Raymond Delaporte, and 'Dev's advice was for Delaporte alone. I certainly did not mention Lainé in this context, as can be plainly observed.

Delaporte was a moderate nationalist, so obviously his meeting with De Valera lacks the kind of sensationalist verve Tallant requires to beat up her story.

In addition, Tallant calls all this "new research". Wrong. As I said in my interview, the account of Delaporte's meeting with the Taoiseach appears in Yann Fouéré's memoirs La Maison du Connemara, published some 12 years ago.

In her Sunday Independent piece, Tallant makes further errors, including referring to me as "Professor" Dan Leach. This will be interesting news to my department, as a simple Google search would have revealed that I am a PhD candidate.

She goes on to describe Lainé as a "French extremist". He was a Breton nationalist.

She also avers that during the war he would "take young men and women into the forests at night to torture and then execute them". This is untrue. Lainé was the political leader and driving force behind the Bezen Perrot, but he was not its field commander and never personally tortured nor executed anyone. It is true that the unit itself is alleged to have executed and tortured Resistance fighters, but no-one has ever found any evidence that Lainé himself was involved in this behaviour.

The Sunday Times article can be accessed here:

The Sunday Independent piece may require registration with Unison.ie, but can be found here:

Daniel Leach
PhD Candidate & Gerry Higgins Scholar
Dept. of History, University of Melbourne

Anonymous said...

Re namesakes, Malcolm assumes correctly. The O'Shannon referred to was the father of broadcaster Cathal O'Shannon.

Anonymous said...

How surprising that RTÉ's 'Hidden History' series should falsely accuse de Valera of being a Nazi sympathiser (see T. Ryle Dwyer's article in which he rejects this notion here: http://www.irishexaminer.com/irishexaminer/pages/story.aspx-qqqg=opinion-qqqm=opinion-qqqa=general-qqqid=22813-qqqx=1.asp).

In a recent episode, they rationalised the actions of an actual fascist, Eoin O'Duffy, who tried to lead a coup against de Valera's government.

Distortion is not a typical RTÉ tactic at all, at all.

Malcolm has already drawn attention to the — ahem! — ambiguous attitude of De Valera to fascist and totalitarian régimes (as on last 29th August, in regard to Brian Girvin's book on The Emergency).

Girvin was the only historian the programme could get to promote their "distortions", as T. Ryle Dwyer puts it. Any other Irish historian will laugh at the idea that de Valera was a closet fascist. Unlike Churchill, he never expressed his admiration for Hitler and Mussolini, and stated his opposition to fascist regimes.

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