German born Irish citizen Helmut Clissmann recalls failed attempts during World War II to land him in Ireland to spy for the Nazis.

After the end of the Second World War Helmut Clissmann became a successful business man In Ireland. In this interview with John Bowman, he outlines how different his life could have been. He first came to Ireland as a student in the 1930s and married Budge Mulcahy who came from a republican family in Sligo.    

In August 1941 Helmut Clissmann was tasked by the Nazis to act as an intelligence agent in Ireland to recruit IRA support against the British. He explains that he was chosen for this role as prior to the war he had been living in Ireland for a number of years and had close connections to republican circles.

I knew, I would say, most of the Republican leadership at the time.

At the time, German intelligence on Ireland was poor and uncoordinated. A previous attempt to garner republican support in 1940 involving Helmut Clissmann failed as a result of sabotage to the boat in which he was travelling.

The subsequent mission never took place as German attention moved to Russia over Britain.

'Talking To John Bowman' broadcast on 18 November 1980. The presenter is John Bowman.

'Talking To John Bowman' was a series examining Ireland in the Twentieth Century. John Bowman speaks to some of the figures who have played prominent roles in the shaping of modern Ireland. Among those featured on the programme included Professor Desmond Williams, Leon Ó Broin, Dr Michael Scott, Professor Patrick Lynch, Professor W B Stanford and Helmut Clissmann.