Dr Hempel as 'Hitler's man'?

Thu, Mar 10, 2011, 00:00

A chara, – Éamon de Valera wrote of Dr Eduard Hempel: “So long as we retained our diplomatic relations with Germany, to fail to have called upon  the German representative would have been an act of unpardonable discourtesy to the German nation and to Dr Hempel himself. During the whole of the war, Dr Hempel’s conduct was irreproachable. He was always friendly  and invariably correct – in marked contrast with Gray. I certainly was not going to add to his humiliation in the hour of defeat”. – Is mise,


Gilford Road,

Dublin 4.

Madam, – Your former music critic, the late Charles Acton, who had the opportunity to observe Dr Eduard Hempel and other members of the German community at his ancestral home, Kilmacurragh, when it functioned as a country house hotel in the 1940s, wrote the following when a correspondent had accused Dr Hempel of conducting secret negotiations with the IRA at nearby Laragh. It is probably the most balanced assessment of Hempel available to us: “Dr Hempel was, I am convinced, an old-fashioned, career civil service diplomat, caught on the terrible dilemma of his times. Loving his country but hating the regime that had taken control of it, he felt that he could do more good in the long run and mitigate the harm of the regime by remaining Minister and pursuing a course of utter correctness, than by resigning and thereby risking the Legation being run by a real Nazi”. – Yours, etc,





Madam, – Vincent P Duffy (March 3rd) misses the point. It is not Dr Hempel’s character that is the issue, or whether or not Dr Hempel was “unhappy” about what the Nazi regime was doing. Rather, it is the fact that even though he was fully aware of the many racist, persecutory, and murderous actions (eg, the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, the widespread Kristallnacht of 1938 pogroms, etc) carried out by that regime, Dr Hempel nonetheless voluntarily made the career decision to represent that regime from 1937 to 1945 in Ireland. Thus, he was indeed “Hitler’s man” in Ireland. That was his job and he was accordingly paid for carrying it out. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.