No. 186  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A25

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe to Eamon de Valera (Dublin)
(Most Secret) (Copy No. 2)

DUBLIN, 17 February 1942

I asked the German Minister to come to see me this morning at 12.30.

After the usual opening conversation, I spoke to him quite frankly about his transmitter. Up to now, I had used evasive terms, but this time I thought it better to be quite blunt and to call a spade a spade. In any case, your instructions obliged me to take this course.

I said that he would have seen in Sunday's British papers that the Legation had been accused of sending meteorological messages which could have helped the German battle units to get through the Channel on Thursday and Friday last. From our records of his transmissions, I had noted that he had sent messages on the 10th, 11th and 12th February. I did not wish to say that these messages contained meteorological information, but he must realise that the British Government (which, of course, recorded all the operations of his transmitter) would be justified in concluding that there was some connection between the sudden resumption after a long interval of his wireless activities and the German coup in the Channel. As a matter of interest, we had enquired from our own Meteorological Department whether weather information from this country would have been useful to the German Admiralty on that occasion, and the reply we got was that, as the weather front for some days preceding the incident had been travelling from the north-west to the south-east, the information would in effect be valuable.

We were now face to face with this situation. The German Government had informed us through him in the most explicit manner that they would respect our neutrality. He himself had assured us on several occasions that his Government would never depart from that policy. In actual fact, the greatest danger which threatened our neutrality was the use of a transmitter by the German Legation. Nothing was so calculated to give the British, and the Americans (especially since their troops arrived in the six counties) a better excuse to demand that we should break off diplomatic relations with the German Government. The two Governments could say, as their newspapers had very frequently said, that the use of a transmitter in the Legation constituted a constant source of danger to their security. No other circumstance that I could imagine was more likely to initiate trouble leading eventually to a break between ourselves and Germany.

The time had therefore come for me to say to him and I was acting on the formal instructions of my Minister, the Taoiseach that he must cease absolutely using the transmitter. If he used it again, my Minister would have to require its transfer to the custody of the Department.

The German Minister, who looked very troubled while I was speaking, said first of all that he would not discuss the legal right which he thought his Legation had to have a transmitter. (I told him at once that we did not share that opinion.) He would look at it from a purely practical point of view, and he was ready to admit that all the dangers I spoke of were inherent in the situation, especially since the arrival of the American troops. He had done his best to comply with the various requests I had made of him in this matter, as I must have noted. He would now inform his Government of the further step that had been taken and he would comply with our wishes.

He referred as he had very frequently done before to the length of time which his telegrams via Berne took to get to Berlin (usually four days). I replied that the time gained by the transmitter was as nothing compared to the danger it presented for his whole position here as well as for our neutrality.

I must say that I found Dr. Hempel very understanding and ready to accept your decision as inevitable.


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