No. 10 NAI DFA 17/16

Letter from Daniel A. Binchy to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Berlin, 14 March 1932

I beg to confirm text of telegram despatched to you on Saturday, 12th March, as follows:

Estero,1 Dublin, Number eight

Handed over the letter of recall to the President in private audience at 11.30 O'clock this morning


My interview with President von Hindenburg was private, as had been arranged and he received me alone in his study into which I was ushered by the Secretary of State in the Presidency, Dr. Meissner.3

It may, of course, be the merest self-flattery, but I have felt all through my mission that Hindenburg has treated me with special friendliness, doubtless because I was the 'baby' of the diplomatic corps. I have been encouraged in this belief by the Foreign Office people and by Dr. Meissner, who said to me on Saturday after the interview: ?You and Frank (the Austrian Minister) have always been his favourites'. Certainly nothing could have exceeded his cordiality during our interview. It was not in the least formal. He spoke quite freely, telling me some incidents of his early life in which Irish horses were concerned, and chaffing me for departing from Berlin still unmarried. During my first interview with him in October 1929, on learning that I was single, he jokingly remarked that he would instruct the Foreign Office people to find a suitable wife for me without delay! On most occasions when I met him subsequently he alluded to this joke.

Of Ireland, apart from its horses, the President knows little or nothing. I am not sure even if he is aware of the recent change of Government. I told him that I had specialised in Irish studies and had acquired most of my knowledge of Old Irish from Professor Thurneysen,4
whom he knows slightly.

In view of the statements circulated by his opponents in the Presidential election that he had aged beyond recognition in recent months, I was amazed at his bodily and mental vigour. Even his hearing is quite perfect: he did not miss a single word of what I said. Indeed, despite his 84 years, he seemed to me to be just as vigorous as the first day I saw him.

I found our final leavetaking very affecting. After I had shaken hands with him, he produced a signed photograph of himself and presented it to me, saying: 'I hope this will help you to remember the old man in Berlin when he is long dead and gone'. As a rule, according to Dr. Meissner he only gives his photograph to visiting foreign potentates and Ministers of State, and very few foreign diplomats have hitherto received it.

[signed] D.A. Binchy

1 Telegraphic address of the Department of External Affairs, Dublin.

2 Telegraphic address of the Irish legation in Berlin.

3 Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934), German Army General, Chief-of-Staff of German Army (1916-18), President of Germany (1925-34).

4 Rudolf Thurneysen (1857-1940), appointed Professor of Comparative Philology at the University of Freiburg (1887), published Handbuch des Alt-Irischen (1909), which was translated by Daniel A. Binchy as A Grammar of Old Irish (1946).

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