“They crucified our savior 1,900 years ago and they are crucifying us every day of the week,” said the Irish parliamentarian Oliver Flanagan in 1943; by “they” he meant Jews. Flanagan went on to praise Germany’s success in ridding itself of “them.” The same year, he led like-minded colleagues in torpedoing a plan to bring 500 refugee children into the country from France. Robert Philpot writes:
While the virulence of Flanagan’s anti-Semitism may have been unusual, Ireland, which adopted a position of neutrality during World War II, displayed precious little sympathy for Europe’s persecuted Jews. As Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times has argued, Irish policy was “infected with a toxic combination of anti-Semitism and self-pity.”
In the 1930s, the government placed responsibility for refugees in the hands of the aptly named Irish Coordinating Committee for the Relief of Christian Refugees. Jews who converted to Christianity were allowed to settle in the country. Those who had not were barred. These Jews, the committee’s secretary suggested, would be taken care of by the American Jewish community. . . .
Meanwhile, in Berlin, the country’s violently anti-Semitic ambassador, Charles Bewley, worked to scupper the chances that any Jews might slip through the tight net Ireland had thrown around itself. His reports back to Dublin noted that Jews were involved in pornography, abortion, and the “international white-slave traffic.” They also denied any “deliberate cruelty” on the part of the German government to the Jews, and parroted Hitler’s defense of the Nuremberg Laws.
Even after the war, . . . Irish ministers and civil servants viewed Jews as “enemies of faith and fatherland” who should be shut of the country. A proposal to admit 100 Jewish orphans from Bergen-Belsen was initially blocked and only proceeded after [Prime Minister Éamon] de Valera’s personal intervention. Perhaps this was the prime minister’s way of atoning for his decision the previous year to visit the German ambassador to offer his condolences on Hitler’s death.
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