Journal Volume 4 2004

Major Hermann Goertz and German World War 2 Intelligence Gathering in Ireland (continued/7)


When Goertz returned to Dublin, two letters were waiting for him at the Glenageary address he was staying at. One instructed him to report to the Alien's Office in Dublin Castle on Friday May 23rd 1947 to have his parole extended while the other invited him to have lunch with Hempel on the same day. As he made his way to the Alien's Office, he was unaware that due to a break down in communication between Government Departments, the Hempel/Boland plan that he should work for the Americans had not been communicated to the intelligence services. On arrival at the Alien's Office, a Special Branch detective remarked to Goertz that an aircraft was waiting to fly him back to Germany. In a moment of panic, he swallowed a phial of potassium cyanide he had on his person and was rushed by ambulance to Mercer's Hospital where he was pronounced dead despite a 30 minute sustained attempt to save him by one of the Registrars. This Registrar, who happened to be Jewish, used all the resources at his disposal to try and save Goertz but after 30 minutes Goetz failed to respond to treatment and died. It is said that one of the reasons it took so long for the poison to act was that potassium cyanide he took was stale. This poison can go stale after a short period, losing its rapid effectiveness, and this means that it does not work as quickly as intended, that is, within a minute or two.

An inquest held before the Dublin City Coroner returned a verdict of “death due to cardiac failure due to the swallowing of poison” and made no mention of that fact that Goertz had taken his own life. Investigations by the Garda were unable to discover the source of the poison used. When I gave a version of this paper to the Enniskerry History Society in October 2001, a member of the audience revealed that he had been a medical student in Mercer's Hospital and was one of the medical students who had to prepare his remains for a post mortem. One of his recollections of that day was the tiny fragments of glass from the poison capsule, which were still adhering to Goertz's lips.

By one of those strange quirks of fate, on the day Goertz took his life in the Alien's Office, Gunther Schutz was waiting his turn to be processed in an adjacent room and was unaware that Goertz was outside. Schutz only became aware that something had happened when all of a sudden he was quickly searched by Garda on duty in the Alien's Office to see if he had any concealed poison capsules on his person - he did not.

Goertz was buried in Deansgrange Cemetery on 26th May 1947 in grave space 12G St Nessan's, with his coffin draped Hermann Goertz's Gravestone in Glencree ( the swastika flag - the World War 2 German military flag. The Irish government advised the former German Minister to Ireland, Dr. Eduard Hempel, that it would not be appropriate for him to attend and being the thorough professional diplomat that he was, he complied with this advice and did not attend the burial. The burial was attended by 30 people, many of whom had met or sheltered him during the Emergency.

There the remains of Dr. Herman Goertz reposed in Deansgrange until April 26th 1974 when that night, under the cover darkness, some German ex-army officers exhumed his remains and re-interred them in the German War Cemetery in Glencree, Co. Wicklow, where they currently repose.

Recently it was revealed in the Irish Times that in 1947 his widow petitioned the Irish Government for the repayment of the US $20,000 found in Stephen Held's house, as at this time, she was living in reduced circumstances in post war Germany but it appears that the petition was denied.


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