Journal Volume 4 2004

Major Hermann Goertz and German World War 2 Intelligence Gathering in Ireland (continued/8)


Major Hermann Goertz was the most serious minded of all the German World War 2 secret agents sent to Ireland and took his mission very earnestly. He resented being called a spy to the extent that in 1947 he and Werner Unland sued a British newspaper over being called spies. By the time an out of court settlement was reached, Goertz was dead, leaving Unland as the sole beneficiary of this settlement. Goertz was at liberty in Ireland for nearly 18 months and there are still unanswered questions about why he was allowed to remain at liberty for so long. Some historians maintain that his presence in Held's house came as a shock to the Government who were unaware that he was in Ireland. Others maintain that the intelligence and security service kept him under deeper surveillance than has been revealed to date to see whom he contacted. Another scenario claims that the Government allowed him to remain free so that in the event of British invasion to seize ports, he could be used to summon German assistance.

As a trained military officer, he considered his mission to Ireland to be one of collecting military information in the role of an intelligence officer. He resented being called a spy and parachuted into Ireland in full military uniform so that if captured in Northern Ireland, which was his intended landing zone, he could claim prisoner of war status under the Geneva Convention. He was disappointed with the IRA with regard to their manner of operation, attitude and capabilities. Highly honourable, he tried to carry out his orders to the best of his ability and did what was expected of him, carrying out his mission with great seriousness. Undoubtedly on this basis, he can be considered as the most successful of all the German World War 2 secret agents landed in Ireland.

The success of Irish military intelligence and their counter-espionage operations, with the Garda, against the Abwehr agents was due to Colonel Liam Bryan and Colonel Dan Archer who in the 1930's prepared very detailed studies on Ireland's strategic position should Britain go to war and made the necessary preparations to serve the country in such an excellent fashion. What information exchanged between Britain and Ireland during the Emergency and between the Gardaí and RUC on German operations in Ireland is covered in Chapter 6 “Security Operations and covert operations, 1939 – 1945” of Eunan O’Halpin's “Defending Ireland - The Irish State and it's Enemies Since 1922”, (Oxford 1999), which includes information on the nature of the material exchanged and how this was carried out. However it is my opinion that a lot of this material still remains a classified secret and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future as secret services by their nature like to keep their secrets and activities to themselves.

    • Mr Donal O’Donovan on Goertz in Shankill

    • Ms Bernie Murphy, Deansgrange Cemetery Office for details on Goertz's burial and exhumation

Reference Sources
    • Marcus Binney, The Women Who Lived For Danger - The Women Agents of SOE in the Second World War, London, 2002

    • An Cosantoir, September, 1989

    • Carolle Carter, The Shamrock and The Swastika, California, 1978

    • Pieter Dourlein, Inside North Pole, London, 1953

    • John P .Duggan, Neutral Ireland and the Third Reich, Dublin, 1989

    • T Ryle Dwyer, De Valera's Finest Hour, 1932 1945, Cork, 1982

    • T Ryle Dwyer, Guests of the State, Dingle, 1994

    • Robert Fisk, In Time of War: Ireland, Ulster and the Price of Neutrality, London, 1983

    • M D R. Foot, Resistance, StAlban's, 1976

    • M D R Foot, SOE in the Low Countries, London, 2001

    • M D R Foot & J M Langley, MI9 - Escape & Evasion 1939 -1945, London, 1979

    • Frank Forde, The Long Watch, Dublin, 1981

    • The Irish Sword, No 75 & No 76, 1993-4

    • The Irish Sword, No 85, Summer 1999

    • Brian Kennedy, Dr. Hermann Goertz - A German Spy in South County Dublin, Foxrock Local History Club Publication No 27, 1989

    • David O'Donoghue, Hitler's Irish Voices, Belfast 1998

    • Donal O'Donovan, Little Old Man Cut Short, Bray 1998

    • Eunan O'Halpin, Defending Ireland: The IrishState and its Enemies Since 1922, Oxford 1999

    • Louis L Snyder, Encyclopaedia of the Third Reich, Leicester, 1995

    • David Stafford, Secret Agent - Britain's Wartime Secret Service, London, 2000

    • Enno Stephan, Spies in Ireland, London 1965

    • Nigel West, Secret War - The Story of SOE, London, 1992

    • The Irish Times


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