Adolf Mahr’s alien registartion card. He was born in Trent, Austria (now part of Italy) in 1887. Mahr lived in Ireland from 1927 to 1939.
Adolf Mahr pictured in 1948
Heinrich Greiner (left) and Charles Budina in wartime Berlin. Before the war, Greiner worked at the Solus lightbulb factory in Bray. Budina ran the Kilmacurragh Park Hotel in County Wicklow.
Larry Slattery (centre, in hospital bed) from Thurles, Co. Tipperary, being interviewed for german Radio’s English service in September 1939. Slattery’s RAF plane was shot down over Germany in the first week of the war.
From December 1939 until May 1945, German Radio broadcast Nazi propaganda to Ireland – as Gaelige.
From small beginnings which featured a weekly talk in Irish, the broadcasts from Berlin grew into a nightly bilingual service in Irish and English.
David O’Donoghue's research in Germany, Britain and here has uncovered one of the most sensitive issues concerning Irish-German relations during the Second World War. He joined Myles to talk about the two German academics who began the Irish language broadcasts from Berlin to neutral Ireland in 1939, the thinking behind the broadcasts and their effect.
left to right: Dr Eduard Hempel, the German Ambassador in Ireland (1937-45), Dr Vogelsang and Dr. Adolf Mahr at the German Legation’s garden party in Dublin, 30 April 1938.
Francis Stuart pictured at his home in Dundrum, Dublin. Stuart worked for German Radio’s Irish Service from 1942 to 1944.
For a free podcast of Donal O’Donoghue’s Documentary which explores the people behind Hitler’s Irish Voice, click HERE or check the podcast section on our webpage
Irish language and folklore expert, Séan Ó Heochaidh taught Irish to Ludwig Mühlhausen and Hans Hartmann in Donegal in 1937.
The Berlin Rundfunkhaus (Radio Centre) in Masurenallee retains its original 1930s format. The Irland Redaktion (Irish Service) operated from two rooms at the rear of the building (arrowed)
HITLER’S IRISH VOICES
The Story of German Radio’s Wartime Irish Service
It is nearly 75 years since Nazi Germany began targeting neutral Ireland with night-time radio propaganda programmes following the outbreak of World War II in September 1939.
In one of Dr. Josef Goebbels’ more unusual ploys, two German academics were chosen to bring Hitler’s message into Irish homesteads – as much for their party loyalty as for their command of spoken Irish. Both men (Ludwig Muhlhausen and Hans Hartmann) had studied in Gaeltacht areas in the 1930s and were well known in pre-war Celtic studies circles.
German Radio’s Irish service or Irland-Redaktion (one of 54 foreign language services put out from the Berlin Rundfunkhaus) was on air from December 1939 until May 1945, bringing a mixture of jigs, reels and Nazi propaganda to an Irish audience that was both small and largely indifferent to Berlin’s overtures. The Germans knew that Irish was not widely spoken but, nonetheless, they wanted to target extreme nationalists with a hardhitting anti-English slant which included lurid tales of British Army brutality in preindependence Ireland. In addition, the regime in Berlin wanted Dublin to stay out of the war, hence Dr. Hartmann’s nightly exhortation “Coinnígí bhur neodracht” (keep yourneutrality). He also authorised the use of anti-Semitic broadcasts.
In late 1941, Hartmann took overall charge of the Irland-Redaktion, under the direction of Dr. Adolf Mahr at the German Foreign Office (Mahr was, in fact, on leave of absence from his job as director of the National Museum in Dublin). Hartmann added English-language staff to augment his nocturnal talks in Irish. His team included the writer Francis Stuart.
But a more sinister aspect of the propaganda beamed to Irish radio listeners was the fact that it contained coded messages for German sympathisers, including the IRA, in Ireland.
The secret ciphers were hidden in extracts from Wolfe Tone’s diaries, read in Irish by Hartmann and in English by the Tralee-born adventurer Jack O’Reilly.
William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) at the point of a sten gun after his arrest near the Danish border at Flensburg, Germany, on 28 May 1945. He was hanged at Wandsworth Prison, London, on 3 January 1946.
‘Wanted’ poster for John O’Reilly, after his escape from Arbour Hill Prison, Dublin, in July 1944. O’Reilly worked for German Radio from 1941 to 1942. The Germans sent him home on a spying mission in December 1943.
German soldiers guard the Radio Luxembourg studios, where Hartmann’s Irish Service was based from September 1943 to August 1944.
Hitler’s Irish Voices is the first detailed study of the Nazis’ wartime propaganda message to neutral Ireland. It includes pen-pictures of the broadcasters, details of how the service began and how its message evolved as the war turned inexorably against the Third Reich. The book contains eye-witness accounts of what was going on behind the scenes in the Berlin radio centre as Hartmann’s team of broadcasters sought to persuade the Irish public that a German victory was in their best interests.
Dr Hans Hartmann in retirement in Cologne, Germany, 1990, aged 81