The Irish in WWII
Before I start today’s post, I wanted to interrupt myself with a brief historical item for discussion. (John, if you’re reading this—which I hope you are, accompanied by a nice glass of red—I wonder whether the wheels of your mind are already turning…)
Yesterday we wandered Dublin, which is really quite wanderable—even more so than Boston, I daresay. We decided to see what we could of it on a short afternoon walk, and to save other sights for our return at the end of our trip.
We walked from our place across the Ha’penny Bridge to St. Stephen’s Green, a lovely park with Victorian flower gardens at its centre.
There’s lots of public art in Dublin (and in Ireland in general—imagine large installations on the side of the highway even), and St. Stephen’s Green was no exception.
We saw this statue of the three Fates:
And this inscription:
This statue, designed by Josef Wackerle, is the gift of the people of the German Federal Republic to mark their gratitude for Ireland’s help after the war of 1939-45. The bronze group portrays the three legendary fates spinning and measuring the thread of man’s destiny.
The inscription is copied into German, Irish, and English.
Ireland remained neutral during World War II, although it was generous enough to allow Britain airspace through Donegal Corridor to the six occupied counties of Northern Ireland, and helped the Allies in a number of other ways (including providing the weather report that would lead to the decision to land at Normandy on D-Day).
But by and large, Ireland wanted no part in World War II, having just come off her own fight for independence, as well as a subsequent civil war. Neutrality was a show of sovereignty. And what cared the Irish what befell the British anyway, unless it was only to lead to yet another foreign invasion of Ireland? The exchange between Britian and Ireland upon V-E Day is worth reading.
Ireland’s neutrality during the war, a period known to them as The Emergency, caused diplomatic repercussions after the war, when their application to join the UN—which at the time was essentially just the Allied nations by another name—was vetoed by a member of the Security Council. So whilst most of Europe shared a common struggle and the subsequent effort to clean up after themselves, Ireland was mostly left on the sidelines.
This didn’t stop them, however, from showing a bit of humanity after the war, and in such a way that Germany later thanked them with the fountain you see above in gratitude of their postwar generosity towards Germany’s children.