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Why Did Nazi Germany Bomb Neutral Ireland During World War II?

Why Did Nazi Germany Bomb Neutral Ireland During World War II?

Warfare History Network

History, Europe

Frankreich.- Verband von Bombern Heinkel He 111 H-2 der 7./KG 1 im Anflug über dem Kanal (vorne V4+IR); PK KBK Lw4

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The south of Ireland, officially known as Eire and often referred to by many residing there as the “Free State,” declared its neutrality when World War II erupted suddenly in September 1939. The Irish would remain neutral throughout the war but were universally viewed as far more sympathetic and helpful to the Allies than the Axis. Despite their formal neutrality, the Irish experienced a number of aerial bomb attacks from German planes in 1940 and 1941. The Germans insisted that any damage to Irish property or casualties among the Irish populace could not have been the result of German ordnance since there simply were not any German military planes flying in Ireland’s airspace. They blamed British skullduggery for these attacks. According to the Nazis, it was Churchill and not Hitler who wanted to drag Ireland into war. 

The ordnance and planes involved in these attacks would prove to be unmistakably German and, while it may be true that some of these incidents were in fact accidental, it appears more likely than not that Nazi Germany was both punishing and warning Ireland regarding its relationship with the Allies.     

Neutrality was a difficult thing to maintain in World War II, especially for any nation in Europe. When the war began in September 1939, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Norway had all proclaimed their neutrality only to have the Germans quickly gobble them up the following spring. The Baltic States and Finland had done much the same, only to be forcibly occupied or invaded by the Soviet Union that same year or the next.  

Sweden and Switzerland had both been neutral states since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, although both nations at least seemed to cooperate more with Germany than the Allies in the subsequent world wars.

Ireland was a different matter altogether. Ireland had Britain and the sea between her and any potential hostile powers like Nazi Germany or Communist Russia. It was no simple matter for a foreign power, save Britain, to invade Ireland, which was thought to be relatively safe from attack.

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