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Thursday 21 August 2014

Hyde (and de Valera) offered condolences on Hitler's death

Published 31/12/2005 | 00:11

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PRESIDENT Douglas Hyde offered condolences to Nazi Germany's representative in Dublin over the death of Hitler, newly declassified records show.

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Until now, historians had believed that the then Taoiseach Eamon de Valera was the only leader to convey official condolences to Eduard Hempel, director of the German diplomatic corps in Ireland.

De Valera's gesture - unique among leaders of neutral nations in the final weeks of World War II - was criticised worldwide.

The presidential protocol record for 1938-1957, made public this week, shed new light on the embarrassing episode and the decision to maintain cordial relations with the Nazis even after news of the Holocaust emerged.

The new document confirmed that President Hyde visited Hempel on May 3, 1945, a day after Ireland received reports of Hitler's death.

It says Hyde - who served as Head of State from 1938 to 1945, and died in 1949 - visited Hempel at the diplomat's home in Dun Laoghaire.

It says the president did not send an official letter of condolence because Berlin was under siege "and no successor (to Hitler) had been appointed.".

De Valera argued that to refuse condolences "would have been an act of unpardonable discourtesy to the German nation and to Dr Hempel. During the whole of the war, Dr Hempel's conduct was irreproachable. ... I certainly was not going to add to his humiliation in the hour of defeat."

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