Nazi spies in Ireland

 

Sir, – Your Northern Correspondent, Freya McClements rightly drew attention to Kevin Magee’s fascinating documentary Nazi sa Ghaeltacht (A Nazi in the Gaeltacht, broadcast by BBC2 Northern Ireland on July 26th). The programme shed light on a murky corner of Irish history and identified Ludwig Mühlhausen as a spy who studied Irish in Donegal in 1937.

In 1939, the German linguist re-emerged on Berlin Radio broadcasting Nazi propaganda, in fluent Irish, to listeners here. But Mühlhausen was far from being a lone wolf. My book, Hitler’s Irish Voices (Somerville Press, Cork) identifies over 30 Nazi party members resident in Ireland in the 1930s, all committed to Hitler’s Third Reich. Six of them held senior positions on the state payroll.

When Mühlhausen quit broadcasting in 1941 to join an SS unit in occupied Brittany, his place at the radio centre was taken by his protégé, Hans Hartmann (1909-2000) who ran the Irish service (Irland Redkation) until May 1945. Like his mentor, Hartmann only broadcast in Irish, although he expanded the propaganda unit to include nightly talks in English.

Mühlhausen died a broken man in 1956 having failed to revive his pre-war career as professor of Celtic studies at Berlin university. Hartmann, however, portrayed himself as having been a reluctant Nazi party member (he joined in 1933 “in order to be left alone later on”) and was appointed professor of comparative philology at Hamburg university in 1953, a post he held until his retirement. – Yours, etc,

Dr DAVID O’DONOGHUE,

Bray,

Co Wicklow.