Ireland

Question:

I am currently compiling a website of Ireland during the second world war. I have been finding it hard to get any information whatsoever. I intend to have a section on the Holocaust and any involvement that Ireland had in it, along with other sections involving WW2. Things such as did any Irish people die in any of the camps. As I am studying away from home, in Germany I decided to take the train ride to Auschwitz for the weekend. I noticed on one of the displays that it gave a list of all the countries under Nazi control and influence and the number of jews that the Germans were aiming to murder. Ireland was mentioned in this list along with a number of 4000. This arose my curiousity, due to Irelands neutrality and complete lack of Nazi influence. This list omitted countries like Britain and Finland.

If you can help me in any way, small or big, I would be deeply grateful.

Andrew Mathis answers:

I am one of the volunteers who answers questions for the Holocaust History Project.

The number of 4,000 Jews in Ireland probably comes from the Wannsee Protocol, the minutes of a meeting held outside Berlin in early 1942 to discuss the Final Solution. You can view the document here:

http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/places/germany/wannsee/

You'll notice that this document does, in fact, include Jewish figures for the U.K. and Finland.

Ireland was indeed neutral during the war, so the only Irish-Jewish casualties that I can imagine would be Irish Jews from Ulster conscripted into the U.K. armed forced and killed in battle. No statistical records that I'm aware of regarding Holocaust deaths by country mention Ireland at all.

One thing you may want to investigate are allegations that Irish authorities allowed Nazi spies to operate on Irish soil during the war. These activities, if true, probably had little bearing on the Holocaust and were more a matter of the Nazis trying to negotiate easier ways of cracking British intelligence through geographic proximity.

Andrew E. Mathis, Ph.D.

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