No. 86 UCDA P150/2571
DUBLIN, 31 May 1941
On the Taoiseach's instructions, I asked the German Minister to come to see me at midday today. He came at once and was clearly very moved and disturbed at the events of last night.1 He said he realised what a terrible position it was for him. He felt the very deepest sympathy with the relatives of those who were killed, with the wounded, and with the Government in their great sorrow. He did not believe that the bombing could have been deliberate. It was, he thought, due to some tragic error and he wanted to do everything to make reparation for the tragedy.
Dr. Hempel was quite clearly horrified at the tragedy. He did not make the slightest attempt to put the blame on other shoulders. His one anxiety was to prevent a recurrence in so far as it lay in his power. He had already sent a message to Berlin telling them as much as he knew and asking them to be extremely careful not to make any cheap propaganda use of what had happened.
I told Dr. Hempel it would be altogether wrong if the German radio tried to put the responsibility on the British. It would be better, if they did mention the matter at all as a piece of news, to say that they were making investigations and, if it became clear that the responsibility was theirs, they would express their deep regret to the Government.
I gave Dr. Hempel as many details as I could, including those about the President's House and the American Legation, so that he could make the greatest possible impression on his Government, and, above all, so that he might convince them of the absolute necessity of keeping German airmen away from our territory altogether. So far the over-flying of our territory by German airmen had done nothing but harm to our relations, and he should emphasise that point with all his strength.
I told Herr Hempel that the Taoiseach, the members of the Government and our people generally, felt very deeply about this new tragedy, and the Taoiseach had asked me to call him in specially to explain to him how deep these feelings were and how essential it was to avoid any possibility of recurrence.
The German Minster took copious notes while I was speaking to him and left me to send a further message to his Government.
[initialled] J. P. W.
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