Why did the Germans not try to raise an Irish Legion in WWII, even if only for propaganda?

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Sid Guttridge
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Why did the Germans not try to raise an Irish Legion in WWII, even if only for propaganda?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 28 Apr 2021 17:50

Why was there no separate Irish unit raised by Germany?

Was it even discussed?

Historically Britain's enemies had recruited well in Ireland, entire regiments of good quality serving in the French and Spanish Bourbon/Borbon armies of the 17th-19th Century. They were also the only nationality to send an entire battalion to serve on the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War. Perhaps it was their abysmal quality there that dissuaded the Nazis from trying to recruit an Irish Legion in WWII?

There were certainly some Irishmen who wanted to serve Germany. Four Irish aircrew tried to defect in an Irish Free State Supermarine Walrus on 9 January 1942. They were heading for Cherbourg to join the Luftwaffe but were intercepted by RAF Spitfires and escorted to St. Eval in Cornwall. Crew and aircraft were returned to Ireland. The Walrus is now on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton.

Ireland also had several small Fascist-type parties, including the Green Shirts and Blue Shirts, and the IRA was still active and in contact with Nazi Germany.

There is an old AHF thread from 2002, (viewtopic.php?t=8256), but have we learnt any more since?

Cheers,

Sid.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Why did the Germans not try to raise an Irish Legion in WWII, even if only for propaganda?

Post by Sheldrake » 28 Apr 2021 23:13

Historically the Irish patriots mobilised in the service of catholic powers such as France, Austria and Spain. It was Catholic rather than Facist Spain that attracted support from the Free State of Ireland.

The Third Reich was dominated by protestant Prussia and Hitler's Germany was atheist/pagan. None had an emotional appeal for Irishmen. Twenty years earlier the Kaiser's army failed to attract Irish rebels in the aftermath of the Easter Rising. The IRA provided an outlet for anti British activity.

As in WW1 many Irish identified with the catholic victims of German oppression. Belgium and Poland were small Catholic states crushed by a mightier neighbour. That may have been something that mobilised tens of thousands of Irishmen against Germany in two world wars, in British uniforms. Economically, Irishmen gained a lot from serving the Allied cause. Who built the airfields depots and Mulberry Harbour? Macalpine's fusiliers!

I have posted this before, but this is the Irish Argonnerwald

At least part of the German war effort was directed towards supporting the IRA https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Rep ... laboration

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Why did the Germans not try to raise an Irish Legion in WWII, even if only for propaganda?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 30 Apr 2021 11:52

Hi Sheldrake,

I am nor sure Catholicism would have been much of a stay. The Pope was publicly pretty non-commital or cryptic about who the bad guys were in WWII, except the Communists. Indeed, one Axis country, Slovakia, had a Catholic priest as Vodca (Leader). Furthermore, by 1940 Germany was a 50% Catholic country itself.

While the IRA was, as you say, "an outlet for anti-British activity", this needn't have precluded raising an Irish Legion in the Reich. It only needed a couple of dozen men for a propaganda "platoon". I can't help but feel that a policy decision may have been made not to do so.

Cheers,

Sid.

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danebrog
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Re: Why did the Germans not try to raise an Irish Legion in WWII, even if only for propaganda?

Post by danebrog » 30 Apr 2021 14:45

Only a handful of Irish had enlisted and were assigned to the "British Free Corps" (mostly former internees or prisoners of war).
The majority of the men in that "Free Corps" were English, but there were also Scots, New Zealanders, Australians, South Africans - and the few Irish.
These were really very few, we are not talking about groups like the "Handshar" division or the "Free India Legion" ...
IMHO all the English-speaking volunteers were grouped together, regardless of nationality, because of the very small number of volunteers.

also have a glace at:
https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/book ... -1.3076579

Hayes
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Re: Why did the Germans not try to raise an Irish Legion in WWII, even if only for propaganda?

Post by Hayes » 26 Oct 2021 21:38

danebrog wrote:
30 Apr 2021 14:45
Only a handful of Irish had enlisted and were assigned to the "British Free Corps" (mostly former internees or prisoners of war).
The majority of the men in that "Free Corps" were English, but there were also Scots, New Zealanders, Australians, South Africans - and the few Irish.
These were really very few, we are not talking about groups like the "Handshar" division or the "Free India Legion" ...
IMHO all the English-speaking volunteers were grouped together, regardless of nationality, because of the very small number of volunteers.

also have a glace at:
https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/book ... -1.3076579
Hello danebrog, could you provide a bit more detail on Irishmen who were assigned to the British Free Corps? The only two Irishmen in the Waffen-SS that I'm aware of (James Brady and Frank Stringer) were in one of Otto Skorzeny's "special" units (I can't recall the exact unit name now unfortunately, but I believe "Jäger" was in the title somewhere...)

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danebrog
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Re: Why did the Germans not try to raise an Irish Legion in WWII, even if only for propaganda?

Post by danebrog » 20 Nov 2021 22:00

A bit late but....
Unfortunately I have no more information besides this:
https://www.wikiwand.com/en/List_of_mem ... Free_Corps

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