North Reich - Robert Conroy (2012)
As head of the Irish Republic, Eamon De Valera had many conundrums to resolve and this was one of the worst. The old saying, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, had been Ireland’s mantra since Germany and Great Britain first went to war in 1914 and then in 1939. Hitler might be a monster, but he was fighting the country that had oppressed and brutalized Ireland for far too many centuries. For many living in Ireland, the thought of hated England being pounded into rubble by anyone, even Nazi Germany, pleased them. The rumors of what the Germans were doing to the Jews were dismissed. The idea of mass murder on the scale reported had to be untrue and besides, who liked the Jews?
Thus, Ireland had declared itself neutral, although taking limited actions that favored Nazi Germany, and these included providing sanctuary for U-boats in Irish rivers.
The Irish people were not without mercy and thought it appropriate that they sell food to the English. It pleased them that Irish potatoes and other foodstuffs were helping to keep England from starvation.
All of this came to a halt when Germany invaded the United States. The U.S. had been the land of hope and opportunity for the people of Ireland for a century. Hundreds of thousands had immigrated to America and now, it was said, there were more Irishmen in the U.S. then there were in Ireland. It went without saying that many tens of thousands were now serving in the American military and fighting the Germans who were at war with the hated English.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, de Valera thought, but who the devil was now my enemy and who was my friend?
His secretary opened the door to his private office and de Valera nodded. Two men entered. Both wore the uniform of the United States army, although considerably rumpled. They had arrived by submarine and had been able to freshen up slightly at the American Embassy before rushing to see de Valera. The matter was that urgent, they’d said.
De Valera greeted them graciously, shook their hands, and told them to sit. They were introduced as Major General Lucien Truscott and Colonel Thomas Grant. They declined an offer of refreshments. There wasn’t time, the more senior American said. “Mr. President, we have news for you that might be quite upsetting and, if handled improperly, could result in loss of life.”
De Valera sighed. He had a good idea what was coming. “I assume you are here to tell me that you are going to violate Ireland’s neutrality.”
“Only if you force us to, sir. Let me be blunt. A massive American fleet is en route to Ireland and it is escorting a large number of troop ships. Until England is stabilized, America has no base to use to bring the war to Hitler. Thus, we must have such a base in Ireland.”
“And our neutrality means nothing?”
“Not if it costs American lives,” Truscott answered coldly. “We had hoped to give you at least a little more time, but we were delayed by bad weather and mechanical problems. The American fleet is now approaching your shores. Two divisions of American soldiers will be landing at first light at several locations. It is up to you to either order your armed forces to stand down or to fight and be slaughtered by forty thousand well-armed and experienced soldiers.”
De Valera stood and the others did as well. The Irish prime minister had no choice. Not only would his small army be cut to pieces if it resisted the Americans, but it was likely that many would refuse to fight against the United States. The U.S. could do what it wished. Germany was in decline. Not only had she lost badly in both North America and Russia, but, as a result, her satellites and allies were getting restive. There were rumors of a negotiated peace floating around, and peace would be a very good thing. Regardless what he thought about becoming a de facto ally of Great Britain, it was clear that doing so was inevitable and would put Ireland on the winning side. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
It was two o’clock in the morning. If he was going to communicate a message of non-resistance to his army, he had to do it now. His secretary had been listening, his face pale.
“It would be idiocy for us to resist you,” de Valera said grimly. “The orders will go out immediately.” He nodded and the secretary skittered out to draft a short message. “You’ve gotten what you wished. You may leave now.”
On the Dublin street outside de Valera’s private quarters, Truscott and Grant breathed in the cool morning air. It was still dark and few were about. The car from the embassy awaited them.
Truscott smiled. His mission had been a success. The thought of Americans killing Irish was almost too awful to contemplate. In a short while he and Grant would be flying back to Washington via Iceland and Gander. With American forces in Ireland, Hitler would be further isolated. He had made only one commitment to de Valera and it was almost funny.
No British soldiers would be permitted to land in Ireland.