HITLER’S LOVE OF THE IRISH
Hitler admired the Irish, although claims that he planned to reunite Northern Ireland with the Republic in the event of a successful invasion are dismissed as hype. As British historian, A J P Taylor pointed out Hitler fought a defensive war.
Occupation of Poland, Norway, the Low Countries and northern France were temporary and defensive. Had occupation of Southern England made impotent the RAF and a seaborne threat to Belgium and France to Germany’s western frontiers it is likely that occupation would be transitory without there being interest in redrawing Britain’s map.
The feelings were not one way: the Irish shunned and refused entry to Jews, but sheltered any Germans who made it to the Emerald Isle during and after the war. There was enormous Irish sympathy for the Reich who saw Churchill’s enthusiasm for continuing the war as more evidence of British piracy.
The Irish Republic remained neutral for the duration of World War II. The Irish government were the first to offer condolences on news of the German leader’s death, and Irish Prime Minister Éamon de Valera in common with scores of other nations never accepted that the Allied cause was just.
Irish historian and author Ruth Dudley Edwards wrote that when as a child in the 1950s she asked her grandmother how she could have a photo of Hitler at the bottom of her bed, she “explained solemnly that I was a victim of British propaganda.”
Adolf Hitler is known to being fond of Irish culture and music. Historical photographs reveal that famous Irish musician Sean Dempsey played for him in 1936. Dempsey, a uileann piper, was invited to play for the twice-elected President-Chancellor of the Reich. The event was arranged by the Reich’s Minister of Information, Dr. Joseph Goebbels during a visit to Berlin in 1936 after being told that Hitler was an Irish folk music fan. Dempsey played what was described as a ‘haunting air’ as Hitler listened with rapt attention. After he performed, Hitler presented him with a gold fountain pen while Goebbels clapped wildly.
The scene was revealed for the first time in a 2010 exhibition of Irish photographs from that era called Ceol na Cathra. The exhibition opened in Dublin and was part of a collection compiled by legendary fiddle player Mick O’Connor. Also in the exhibit were rare photographs from the early days of The Chieftains and Sean O’ Riada, the father of modern Irish folk music.
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