Journal Volume 4 2004
Major Hermann Goertz and German World War 2 Intelligence Gathering in Ireland (continued/6)
End of War in Europe and Freedom
When World War 2 in Europe ended in May 1945, in addition to the German internees held in Athlone, the Curragh Camp held 266 German aviators and sailors consisting of Luftwaffe personnel from aircraft which had crashed in Ireland and the sailors who had been picked up December 29th 1943 in the Bay of Biscay by the Kerlogue while en route to Ireland from Portugal with a cargo of oranges. In June 1945, the British submitted a request to the Irish government asking it to hand over all the German personnel and internees it was holding. Taoiseach Eamon de Valera agreed to hand over the Curragh internees subject to a British guarantee that none of them would be executed or forced to return to the Soviet Zone of Germany. Delays by the British in confirming this guarantee held up the hand over which did not take place until August 13th 1945 when the Curragh internees were brought to Dublin and placed on board a British warship which brought them to Belgium for processing and release.
De Valera refused to hand over the Athlone internees, whom the British intelligence services were keen to interview, and these were allowed to remain in the country. Colonel de Buitlear came to an agreement with Goertz that he would not be deported to Germany with the other internees provided he offered a full statement on his activities in Ireland. Goertz agreed to this and wrote a very fanciful account of his activities while at the same time concealing the true identities of some of those who had assisted him, claiming that it was never his intention or that of Germany to violate Irish neutrality.
However in Germany a different picture began to emerge at the Nuremberg International War Crimes Trials, which began in 1946. At these, Major General Larhousen admitted that plans had been prepared for landing German troops in Ireland. This disclosure upset Goertz as he feared that if he was sent back to Germany he would be tried and sentenced to death. He resolved not to return to Germany. He was also afraid of being handed over to the Russian as he had fought against the Reds during the turbulent period of post World War 1 political upheaval in Germany when rival Left and Right wing groups fought each to try and gain political control of that country.
In September 1946, Gerald Boland, Irish Minister for Justice, announced that all German spies interned in Ireland would be offered political asylum. This gave Goertz a major boost and he began to settle down to Irish life obtaining a job in February 1947 as secretary to the “Save the German Children Fund”, an Irish relief organisation established to assist Germany. This relief organisation brought a large number of German children to Ireland for rest and recuperation, with many being subsequently adopted by families in Ireland. Goertz sold small stools and other furniture to raise funds for this organisation. During this period he visited Florenceville on a number of occasions and presented Donal O’Donovan, James O’Donovan's son, with his .32 FN semi-automatic pistol, 50 rounds of ammunition and his parachute knife. In the 1970's these items were lost when Donal O'Donovan's residence in Bray was burgled and for obvious reasons at that time, their loss could not be reported to the authorities and their current whereabouts are unknown.
However the Department of External Affairs was opposed to the offer of asylum extended to the German agents by the Minister for Justice and managed to persuade Taoiseach Eamon de Valera that it might be more prudent to avoid further British opposition to this move by reversing this decision and at the end of the day, the Taoiseach agreed with this view and reversed the earlier decision taken by the Minister for Justice.
On April 12th 1947, Goertz and the other internees were arrested by the Garda and returned to Mountjoy Gaol from where Goertz sent a letter to the Taoiseach pleading for asylum. While most of the other German secret agents were deported, Goertz was allowed out on parole to wind up his personal affairs in Ireland. Goertz was extremely unhappy at the prospect of being deported to Germany and sought the aid of anyone who could help prevent this. Invited to dine with Hempel at his Monkstown residence, Frederick Boland, Assistant Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, was present at the meal. Goertz was asked if he would be interested in working for the Americans. He requested time to consider this offer.
Following this meal, Goertz met another former internee, Luftwaffe officer George Fleischmann, in Dun Laoghaire's Royal Marine Hotel, where they spent the entire night discussing this offer and what it entailed with Fleischmann encouraging Goertz to accept it. Fleischmann was an Austrian who, along with two other Austrians, had been granted political asylum by de Valera following their request to remain in the country on the grounds that if returned to Austria they might be charged with treason because they had considered themselves Germans. But Goertz suspected that he was being double crossed and that he would be deported back to Germany and spent the next few days in the West of Ireland trying to calm down his nerves.