|Suddenly, While Abroad: Hitler's Irish Slaves|
|By David Blake Knox|
In June 2001, the Irish Seamen's Relatives Association (1939-46) initiated the Bremen-Farge Project, and since then have concluded research in Ireland, the UK, Germany, France and Argentina, in order to establish the facts surrounding certain Irish born British merchant seamen who were captured while serving on British and allied vessels during world war two, and their subsequent refusal to workfrei for Nazi Germany. 'Suddenly, While Abroad – Hitler's Irish Slaves' a book by David Blake Knox, Published by New Island Books, 10 December 2012, purports to tell the story of the 32 Irishmen in Bremen-Farge. Some information apparently extracted from this book and reported in the Irish Independent 2/12/2012 and elsewhere is inter alia factually incorrect. Perhaps discerning readers might consider the following comments:
Extract: Chapter 4 from page 67, and at page 75, Dr Blake Knox rightly states in reference to the Mutiny on the Portland, that those who were charged, were found guilty. However he goes onto say "in the years that followed these seamen were treated with a special degree of physical brutality which left some of them permanently disabled"...To Clarify;
Comment: The main British protagonist involved in the Mutiny was very happy to stay in his civilian prison in Hamburg as he was better treated than if he had been placed in a prisoner of war camp. When he was transferred to another Prison later in the War he proceeded to the main office block in the camp and although warned by the guards not to attempt to gain entry to the Commandants office, he foolishly ignored that warning and attempted to confront the Commandant and in consequence was shot in the leg. Following publicity in the British newspapers on the 16 May 1945 which reported on allegations of murder, unlawful wounding, assault, and ill-treatment of prisoners of war, by returning POWs who had been involved in the Mutiny on the Portland while at sea on the 14 March 1941, the British government initiated an investigation and subsequently issued legal advice to the Officer In Charge of the War Crimes unit, that if the facts were correct, then drastic action by the German ships officers of the MS Portland would be justified. All the German guards involved in the Mutiny on the Portland have been traced and their post war experience accounted for. All were listed as wanted for War Crimes however there was no proceedings taken by the British government against any of those involved which is consistent with legal advice not to prosecute because of doubts surrounding the facts. Regarding statements of alleged physical brutality made to investigators by returning prisoners of war, Dr Blake Knox should take note. MI9 was instructed to seek out individuals for awards following liberation and there was a tendency by some POWs and the Irishmen to embellish their statements. In some cases claims of brutality were asserted some years after the wars end which could not be corroborated and lacked cogency as details were unclear as to who did what to whom, and when. British military intelligence post war had forewarned that any report they compiled from information derived from prisoners of war which cannot be verified should not be accepted as fact unless definitely stated to be confirmed by information from other sources. In this regard Guy Walther's article Blood, Tears, Sweat and Tall Tales should be required reading for every historian, writer and commentator, in particular that he "found that many escapers' memoirs seriously conflicted with the accounts they gave to the authorities during and immidiately after the war". At Page 199 of his Book Dr Knox states: "Dr. Heidbreder denied that my cousin's death had anything to do with the operation he had performed", which replicates Dr Heidbreder's evidence adduced under oath to the Bremen-Farge War Crimes Court post war, that he had carried out the operation on William Knox, which was also corroborated by other witnesses. However, one surviving ex Irish born prisoner asserted inter-alia that it was he who had contacted Dr Heidbreder in his home by telephone from Farge Camp and following instructions from the Doctor asserted that he had carried out the surgical procedure himself on William Knox in the camp while he was a prisoner. The same Irish born survivor also asserted that he had seen and could positively identify the two women prisoners walking on a pathway outside the fence of the Merchant Seamen's Prison Camp, Milag Nord, in Westertimke, as the two female passengers who had been on his former ship when she was sunk in the South Atlantic. Significantly these two female passengers had never been in Milag Nord, in Westertimke, as internees/prisoners but instead had already been transferred by the 18th of May 1941 from the civilian barrack located in Stalag XB, Sandbostel through Bremervörde in Northern Germany, via a circuitous railway route to Liebenau Civilian Internment Camp located in Tettnang, near Ravensburg, Southern Germany. The Irish survivor could not have seen the two women passengers from his ship in Milag Nord, Westertimke, as they had already been relocated to Liebenau Civilian Internment Camp from May 1941, while he was still a prisoner in Stalag XB, Sandbostel. The same Irish survivor also stated that a submachine gun was used in the shooting of Prisoners aboard the Portland, and that they were transported from Bordeaux to Germany in cattle trucks. In contrast, a British survivor from the same ship as the Irish survivor stated that a revolver was used in the shootings on board Portland, and that they were transported from Bordeaux to Germany in railway coaches with wooden seats, and not in cattle wagons, which begs the question, wherein lies the truth? Conflicting accounts surrounding events during world war two raise questions as to the reliability of witness recollections and cognisant that accuracy of memory can be distorted and dimmed through the passage of time, any assertions emanating from former prisoners, no matter how cogent, should be viewed with caution, until corroborated from other sources. Consequently, author's such as David Blake Knox who intervene in the history surrounding the Irish experience in Nazi Germany without having all the facts at their disposal do a disservice to all concerned. To preserve the integrity of the Bremen-Farge project initiated in June 2001, uncorroborated tall tales of blood sweat and tears relating to this issue, regardless of source, will be robustly challenged and comprehensively rebutted when necessary.
Extract: Irish Independent 2/12/2012: "their heads were shaved"...Untrue:
Comment: The Irish Seamen never had their heads shaved by the Nazis, and for the record, no numbers were enscribed on their clothing, and neither were they dressed in pinstripes similar to KZ/Concentration Camp prisoners. From the outset the Irishmen had their own battle dress clothes supplied by the Nazis which were uniforms left behind by escaping UK and Allied soldiers following Dunkirk in 1940 and recycled for use of POWs during the war. However the Irishmen would have been deloused as part of a regime of camp hygiene to protect the prisoner population against Typhus. When POW and Concentration Camps were eventually liberated in April 1945 the British deloused Prisoners/Survivors with DDT for the same reason. The truth is, the regime in Farge Camp became a lot easier for the Irishmen several months after they had been placed in this camp. Indeed some of the Irishmen were able to leave the camp on their own during the day to work outside in market gardens in the nearby village..UNSUPERVISED. In contrast, the regime was a lot harsher for other Prisoners.
Extract: Irish Independent 2/12/2012: "the Irish prisoners were segregated, and taken to Drancy, a concentration camp near Paris"...Untrue; At Page 79 Book Dr Knox states: "It had not taken German Military Intelligence long to realise that none of the Irish merchant seamen they had questioned at Drancy was prepared to join the German war effort...Untrue; Within a few months they had all been moved to a Prisoner of War Camp in Germany"...Untrue; "In 1941 the majority of Irish Merchant seamen were taken from Drancy, outside Paris to a POW Camp about 60 Kilometres west of Hamburg"...Untrue;
Comment: The Irish Prisoners were never segregated while travelling from Bordeaux to Germany. The Irish along with other male prisoners were taken by rail via Drancy outside Paris through Belgium, Holland and to Bremervörde. Here they were marched to Stalag XB in Sandbostel and placed into a section at the rear of the camp named Marlag und Milag Nord. At no time were the Irish Prisoners asked to workfrei by the Nazis in Sandbostel or in the Front Stalag 221 located in Saint-Médard-en-Jalles, Bordeaux. The Irishmen along with many other merchant seamen were later transferred to the designated Merchant Seamen's camp located at Westertimke also named as Marlag und Milag Nord. By early 1942 all merchant seamen along with Royal Navy POWS were relocated from Sandbostel to this separate camp.
Extract: Irish Independent 2/12/2012: "Throughout their captivity in Sandbostel and in Milag Nord, the Irish seamen consistently refused to sign a contractual agreement to become freie Arbeiter (voluntary workers) for Nazi Germany"...Untrue; At Page 110 book, Dr Knox states "Throughout their captivity in Sandbostel and in Milag Nord, the Irish seamen consistently refused to sign a contractual agreement to become freie Arbeiter (voluntary workers) for Nazi Germany"...Untrue;
Comment: The Irish seamen were not the subject of interrogation consistently in Sandbostel and Milag. Throughout their captivity in Sandbostel/Stalag XB and in Milag Nord, Westertimke, Irish born British merchant seamen were never asked to sign a contractual agreement to become frei Arbeiter (voluntary workers) for Nazi German and that assertion is erroneous. Although there was rumours of efforts by the Germans to set up a British frei corps and all the prisoners were warned by the camp confidence men to resist. To be precise, on the 27 January the 32 Irishmen were taken out of Milag Nord Westertimke and brought to Bremen. They were then brought to Hamburg and it was while in Bremen and Hamburg that the efforts were made by the Germans to get the Irish to workfrei on German ships. They refused and the Irish told their captors they wanted to be returned to Westertimke however the Nazis had other ideas and put all 32 into the Arbeitslager Bremen-Farge.
Extract: At Pages 83, 84 and Page 85 of his Book the author uses the description "Walther Skeet, Skeet's family, Skeet's killer". The bibliography credit on Page 305 refers inter alia to Cadet Officer Walther "Skeet"...To Clarify;
Comment: First Radio Officer, Walther Leonard Skett M.V. British Petrol (London)., Merchant Navy who died on 13 May 1942 Age 23, is buried in Becklingen War Cemetery and remembered with honour in perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. If Dr David Blake Knox had done his research he should have become aware that the surname of this man is Skett not Skeet. The correct names of those who lost their lives during world war two are crucially important to the families and contribute towards the preservation of their loved ones memory.
Extract: At Page 181, Dr Blake Knox states: "The camps at Marlag and Milag Nord were liberated on the 2nd May 1945"...Untrue: "by units of the British 11th Armoured Division"...Untrue;
Comment: Marlag und Milag Nord located in the village of Westertimke, was liberated on Friday evening the 27 April 1945 at 23.47hrs by the Guards Armoured Division, which included units of the Irish Guards. The official Liberation took place on the main square of Milag Nord on Saturday 28 April 1945. The 11th Armoured Division was not involved in the Liberation of Marlag und Milag Nord but were involved in the Liberation of Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp on the 15th April 1945, and thereafter moved North East to Lubeck.
At Page 88/89, Dr Blake Knox states "and on board that ship
were two Irish seamen who would later die in German Prison Camps;
Patrick Breen, from Blackwater in County Wexford, and James Byrne,
from Arklow in County Wicklow"...Untrue; To Clarify;
Comment: On the 16 March 1941 Scharnhorst and Gneisenau captured or sunk the British merchantmen Simnia (6,197 GRT), San Casimiro (8,046 GRT), British Strength (7,139 GRT), Athelfoam (6,554 GRT), and the Norwegian Bianca (5,684 GRT) and Polykarb (6,405 GRT), all from a dispersed convoy. Later in the day, they sink the Norwegian Granli (1,577 GRT), the British Demeterton (5,200 GRT), Sardinian Prince (3,200 GRT), Silverfir (4,347 GRT) (4,347 GRT), Royal Crown (4,364 GRT), Empire Industry (3,648 GRT), and Rio Dorado (4,500 tons), the French Myson (4,564 GRT), the Dutch Mangkai (8,290 GRT), and the Danish Chilean Reefer (1,739 GRT). Owen Corr was a seaman aboard the MV Silverfir when she was sunk. All the prisoners were transferred to German supply ships which arrived in La Pallice/La Rochelle, France, circa 22 March 1941. The Scharnhorst had some prisoners aboard and they were routed through Brest to Marlag und Milag Nord in Sandbostel/Stalag XB, Germany. Owen Corr and his shipmates were also transported to Marlag und Milag Nord in Sandbostel/Stalag XB, Germany. By the end of 1942 all the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy Prisoners held in Marlag und Milag Nord in Sandbostel/Stalag XB had been relocated to a new camp also named Marlag und Milag Nord located in Westertimke. A group photo in our archive shows some of the Irishmen taken in Milag Nord, Westertimke, Circa 1942. Owen Corr is pictured in this photo. On the 27 January 32 Irishmen were selected by the Gestapo and attempts were made in Bremen and Hamburg to get the Irishmen to workfrei on Nazi Merchant Ships. They all refused and were put into the Arbeitziehungslager in Bremen-Farge. On the 31 March 1943 in a letter to Berlin the Gestapo HQ in Bremen listed the names of Irish born British merchant seamen held in the Arbeitslager Farge, Owen Corr is named. On the 21 April 1944, POW No 524, Owen Corr is listed by Irish Army Intelligence G2 as being in the Arbeitslager Farge. Owen Corr died In Farge on the 27 April 1944. Significantly in his book Irish Secrets: German Espionage in Wartime Ireland 1939-1945, published in 2003 by Irish Academic Press, the author, Dr Mark M Hull, at Page 228, does not refer to Owen Corr being in Friesack Camp. An autobiography in our archive of one of those men who were held in Friesack does not mention Owen Corr in Freisack camp. In light of concerns perhaps Dr Blake Knox might consider corroborating his assertion about Owen Corr being in Freisack Camp ?
Extract: At Page 109 Book: Dr David Blake Knox asserts "Jack Matthews could recall that one of the crew on the Silverfir was sent to Friesack" and opines that this was Owen Corr, from Rush, in County Dublin...Untrue; Dr Blake Knox also asserted that Matthews remembered that "Corr was whipped away along with some other Irishmen to another camp"... Which is true;
Comment: Dr Blake Knox is taking poetic licence with the interview Jack Matthews did for the IWM. Nowhere during that interview did Jack say that one of the Irishmen was sent to Freisack. Freisack and Owen Corr were never mentioned by Jack in his interview. Owen Corr was in fact whipped away from Milag Nord to Bremen-Farge on the 27 January 1943 and not to Freisack. Jack Matthews is referring to a death camp which is the Arbeitslager Farge and not Freisack Camp which was a holiday camp outside of Berlin. Although the length of time the Irish were in the Farge Slave Labour Camp was more than two years, in his interview Jack relates unique evidence as to his contact with his shipmate Cadet William Kelly of the MV Sliver fir who had been returned from Farge to Milag Nord along the other Irish survivors in April 1945.
Extract: At Page 110 Book: Dr Blake Knox asserts "According to Matthews he was ill, when he was brought back to Milag Nord, He was very thin, with sores to his head, and it took some time before it all cleared up. Corr may have felt some relief to be back in the confines of Milag Nord, but, if he did, his relief was not to last for long"...To Clarify;
Comment: During his interview Jack Matthews was recalling the events of April 1945 when Cadet Kelly was returned to Milag Nord from Farge. Farge could be described as a death camp and Jack refers to a death camp in his interview. Freisack was a holiday camp and the prisoners were well fed and lived under a more lenient regime. In our view the author has confused the different camps and in doing so has muddied the historical record. If Dr Blake Knox had understood the wider picture he would have also become aware that it was Cadet William Kelly who was the cadet from the Silver Fir that Jack Matthews was talking about in his interview who had been returned to Milag Nord, Westertimke, from Farge in April 1945, and not Owen Corr. Owen Corr had already lost his life in April 1944 and Dr Blake Knox's assertion is an insult to the Corr family.
Extract: At Page 91 Book: Dr Blake Knox asserts "The reason according to Woods - the engineering officer - was Irelands Neutrality"...Untrue; "As they waited for the trucks Kelly came up with a cunning plan"...Untrue; To Clarify;
Comment: Dr Blake Knox erroneously cites Woods when it was John Whitfield Morris who did the interview, and John never said the reason was Irelands Neutrality. Dr Blake Knox is embellishing the incident. The cunning plan as Dr Blake Knox opines was simply a spontaneous attempt to fool the guards that they were Irish. The reference to the Irish seamen 'ended up being treated worse than we were' relates to the Irish experience in Farge slave labour camp which was communicated to the prisoners in Milag Nord, Westertimke, on the Irishmen's return in April 1945.
Extract: At Page 305 Book: in the bibliography credits and in a reference to taped interviews, Dr Blake Knox erroneously cites "And the Engineering Officer, John Woods, from the Silver Fir - on which Owen Corr served - which can be found in the Imperial War Museum in London"...To Clarify;
Comment: There is no John Woods cited in the records of the IWM in London. However John Morris an Engineering officer of the Silver Fir is listed.
Extract: At Page 182 Book: Dr Blake Knox asserts "During the Spring and Summer of 1942, about 50 of the Irish Seamen were marched to Milag Nord at Westertimke"... Untrue;
Comment: The men were not marched to the new camp Marlag und Milag Nord at Westertimke from Sandbostel, in fact they were moved by truck from their old camp Marlag und Milag Nord in Sandbostel/Stalag XB, to their new camp also named Marlag und Milag Nord in Westertimke. An extract from the German Document Dated 8 August 1941 in our archive shows clearly that there were 22 Irishmen in Marlag Sandbostel/Stalag XB. There was a maximum of 36 Irishmen recorded by the Kreigsmarine in Milag Nord, Westertimke up till June 1942, thereafter the record shows that 32 Irishmen were in the Merchant Navy Section until the December 1942 and this record shows 27 Irishmen in Milag Nord. Fluctuation in numbers did occur due to repatriations and incoming prisoners, consequently the number of prisoners defined as Irishmen in Milag Nord was always small with little variation as to numbers. However on the 27 January 1943, 32 Irishmen were removed from Milag Nord and eventually placed in the Arbeitslager Bremen-Farge and forced to work on the construction of the UBoot Bunker Valentin in Bremen-Farge. On the 1 February 1943 the German Kommandant records only 3 Irishmen left in both camps. .
Extract: Irish Independent 2/12/2012: "However, the Allies failed to capture Schauwacker after the war, and he is believed to have escaped to South Africa, where he lived comfortably under the Apartheid regime"...To Clarify;
Comment: There is evidence that Schauwacker was liberated by his Gestapo friends however his location was unknown and South Africa is fanciful speculation.
Extract: Irish Independent 2/12/2012: "in 1947, Ryan and three other Irish seamen agreed to return to Germany to give evidence against SS personnel on trial for war crimes. The military court heard harrowing evidence of back-breaking work, prisoners shot and beaten to death, and pitifully inadequate rations. The evidence of the Irish seamen proved vital in securing convictions for most of the SS men on trial"...To Clarify;
Comment: When gifting copies of the trial transcripts all concerned were forewarned that the Irish evidence was suspect and in many cases inconsistent. Obviously the author did not take note of those inconsistencies in particular the Judge Advocates summing up when he stated inter-alia that "the Irish witnesses were manifestly wrong in their delusion that one of the accused was ever a camp commandant". The apparent unreliability of Irish witness evidence recorded within the war crimes trial transcripts prompted a research project which was initiated from 2001 to establish the true facts and was concluded in 2010. For example, the author quotes the evidence of George Knott to the Bremen-Farge War Crimes trial but he avoids or is seemingly unaware of the closing remarks recorded on the 15 March 1948 of the (DJAG) Deputy Judge Advocate General Brigadier RC Halse. On page 392 he states at 22. "First of all the witness Knott. As the defending council have several times reminded you, Knott after contradicting himself several times, admitted about himself that he had a very bad memory, that he got easily confused, and was not always able to think clearly. At 23. "Dr. Jonas in his closing address made the very comment that I myself was going to make, that whatever else Knott said, you may think that that remark at least is absolutely true. You will probably think that where the evidence of Knott stands alone it would be unsafe to accept it as a basis of a conviction". There is also evidence that the Irish witnesses had been coached by the British military prosecution team and instructed as to what to say during the Trial. On the 4 April 1948 (JAG) Judge Advocate General Guy Sixsmith stated "I was prepared for a large number of acquittals. It seemed to me almost impossible to prove guilt satisfactorily in respect of many incidents owning to the time element". JAG's initial observation "that he came away from the trial (Bremen-Farge) profoundly disturbed at the outcome" raises a reasonable doubt as to the reliability of witness evidence. The historical record surrounding the experiences of Irish born British merchant seamen during world war two who refused to work for Nazi Germany demanded a more comprehensive study rather than Dr Blake Knox's piecemeal effort which has now obfuscated that historical record in perpetuity.
Extract: Chapter 12 book at Page 197: Dr Blake Knox refers to the evidence of Dr Heidbreder, the camp Doctor, which appears to have been extracted from part of the war crimes trial transcripts. At page 201 of his book Dr Blake Knox states that "there was credible evidence that Dr Heidbreder had treated Russian Prisoners in particular with consistent harshness"...To Clarify;
Comment: Although the author admits that Dr Heidbreder was acquitted of all charges the author's analysis appears to be retrying the Doctor all over again in retrospect which is untenable in light of the not guilty verdict of the military court. For Dr Knox to engage in argument which suggests or implies that an accused is perhaps guilty of a war crime when a court has found otherwise is an injustice both to the accused and his family. Dr Knox should also be aware of the point of law stated by the Judge in the Bremen-Farge War Crimes Trial. He stated inter-alia at 343 and 344, "And the Burden of Proof means this. The Onus of Proof, that cornerstone of British Justice. Because this trial is a trial by British justice. Even the Royal Warrant has not sought to take the burden of proof from the prosecution. and the Burden of proof means this, as well as what I have already told you start from the presumption of innocence. There is no presumption of guilt, even with members of the Gestapo". Interestingly Dr Blake Knox omits to include in his analysis the observations of the Judge Advocate General which cast doubt on the proceedings.
Extract: Irish Independent 2/12/2012: "In 1991, a memorial was unveiled to the merchant seamen from Ireland who died during World War Two. It lists the names of more than 150 Irishmen who were lost at sea as a result of German naval action. However, the granite monument in Dublin's docklands does not bear the name of my cousin William, or Patrick Breen, or any of the other Irish seamen who were used as slave workers in Bremen-Farge, and who perished in the Nazi terror"...To Clarify;
Comment: The criteria for a name being added to the Irish National Merchant Seamens Memorial on City Quay was the vessel on which the seafarer lost his life must have been registered in the Irish State. For the author to suggest that the Irish National Seamen's Memorial should also include those lost on British registered ships reduces the concept of commemoration to an absurdity. The point of the Irish memorial is to commemorate all those who died on Irish ships which include 1 Argentine (a relative), 1 Norwegian, 1 Latvian and 18 British Nationals, the remainder lost as a result of belligerent action were Irish citizens. In 2001 one sponsored the Irish Merchant Navy Memorial Plaque and Plinth in the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire which has an Irish flag on the memorial plaque at the top to remember those lost on Irish ships, the other MN POW Plaque located at the front of the plinth remembers those lost in Bremen-Farge, which includes William Knox. This has a British merchant navy flag on the inscription plate located at the front of the plinth to denote their service on British registered vessels along with an Irish flag to recognise their Irish nationality. The Alrewas Irish memorial is a privately funded memorial. A suggestion of a special commemorative memorial dedicated to the Irishmen who fought and died while serving with British or Allied forces ignores the fact that every year on the National Day of Commemoration - the Sunday nearest July 11 - the anniversary of the Truce that ended the Anglo-Irish War - the President of Ireland, in the presence of members of the Government of Ireland, members of Dáil Éireann and of Seanad Éireann, the Council of State, the Defence Forces, the Judiciary and the Diplomatic Corps, lays a wreath in the courtyard of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, in memory of all Irishmen and Irishwomen who have died in past wars and on service with the United Nations. Irishmen who lost their lives in both world wars are also remembered by British and allied Governments.
Extract: 11 January 2013 : Irish Sun/Irish Slaves of the Nazis: quote: "They were brought to Drancy, France, where they were offered a lifeline — become part of the Nazi war effort and they would be spared the hardship ahead"...Untrue;
Comment: The Irish were never brought to Drancy and interrogated, indeed they were never in Drancy Concentration camp.
Extract: 11 January 2013 : Irish Sun/Irish Slaves of the Nazis: "LEST WE FORGET ... William Hutchinson Knox, William Knott, Gerald O'Hara and Patrick Breen died in slave camp of evil Nazis, at the end of the article it stated "David’s cousin William was one of four other Irishmen, including William Knott from Ringsend, Dublin, and radio officer Gerald O’Hara, of Ballina, Co Mayo, to lose their lives"...Untrue;
Comment: George William Knott survived the War.
Extract: 11 January 2013 : Irish Sun/Irish Slaves of the Nazis: quote: "In 1991, a memorial was unveiled to the 150 merchant seamen from Ireland who died during World War II But the monument in Dublin’s Docklands does not list any of the men who were enslaved in Bremen"...Correct; To clarify;
Comment: The Irish National Merchant Seamen's Memorial is appropriately dedicated to those lost on Irish registered ships and the inclusion of merchant seamen who were lost or who were captured while serving on British Vessels was never envisaged by the organisers of the Memorial, one of whom was a decorated ex British WW2 Merchant Navy Veteran. The National Commemoration in July remembers all Irishmen and women lost in past wars which does include the five Irishmen lost in Farge.
The author has bibliography listed at the back of his book where he states that he has consulted and drawn information from. However the absence of footnotes or endnotes or indeed referencing on individual pages is significant and raises other questions as to the probity of his assertions. For example, at Page 61 of his Book the author makes reference to 'Kriegsgefangenen Postkarte' in one section. That information was extracted from this website on our previous section Irish Victims of the Nazis, and lifting information from our websites and passing it off as the authors work is plagiarism. Dr Blake Knox also asserts inter alia that "5000 or so Irishmen who were already serving in the Irish Army and chose to desert to join Allied armed forces". There is no extant research to indicate/quantify who joined UK forces or who in the Blacklist went AWOL to work in the UK. Interestingly on the 16 January 1945 Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs Mr. Emrys Evans MP commented "it has not been possible to decide what numbers of His Majesty's Forces come from Eire and which do not. We have made great efforts to find out, but it has not been possible", confirming the British government at that time could not supply accurate statistics as to who had joined UK forces from Eire never mind calculating as to where alleged deserters went and why. If Dr Knox has the evidence regarding those exact figures he should produce that evidence as to numbers in the interests of all concerned. As the author also makes reference in his book to children in industrial schools drawing on the inaccurate analysis of another author perhaps ones letter in the Irish Examiner 7 July 2012 Children Of Deserters Not Singled Out For Abuse might assist. Dr Blake Knox also erroneously asserts on page 186 of his book in relation to one soldier that "he was posthumously courtmartialled" - "along with dozens of other Irishmen who had been killed on active service". Again the author has drawn on the erroneous assertion of another author. There was no court-martial convened post war to adjudicate on personnel who had allegedly deserted and who were named in the Blacklist, in fact they had been dismissed through an Emergency Powers Order, Irish Press 9 August 1945. The repetition of this statement by Dr Blake Knox and others has added to the confusion. Taking into account that the Irish Soldiers Pardons Campaign (WW2) cannot ascertain the exact number of alleged deserters from the Irish Defence Forces who were killed fighting with UK or allied forces during world war two, Dr Blake Knox should also elaborate and explain his speculative reference to "DOZENS" who were killed. Obtaining the evidence and corroborating the facts should be an essential imperative for those who claim to be writers of record. In light of the inaccuracies outlined the assertion that Suddenly While Abroad - Hitlers Irish Slaves by David Blake Knox was thoroughly researched beggars belief. An objective analysis suggests that this book is a cut and paste effort in which the author has muddied the history of the Irish experience in perpetuity, and clearly shows that Dr David Blake Knox has rejected the fundamental principle of diligent historic enquiry when dealing with Irish involvement in world war two. The author pontificates vociferously about remembrance and honour for the Irishmen who refused to work for the Nazi's. In our view, moral entrepreneurs, such as David Blake Knox, whose 'ham-fisted intervention' has now obfuscated the historical narrative, do not comprehend the meaning of the words honour or veracity. Consequently, the acknowledgement by Dr Blake Knox in the foreword of his book that "I must pay tribute to the pioneering work done by the Irish Seamen's Relatives Association in drawing public attention in Ireland to the fate of the Irish prisoners in Farge" is in the circumstances, unwarranted sanctimonious humbug.
Postscript: The suggestion that an apology should be obtained from the Irish Government for their perceived inaction to assist Irish born merchant seamen in Bremen-Farge who refused to work for the Nazis during world war two on the basis that they did nothing to assist Irish citizens during that time needs clarification. German documents in our archive clearly show that from 1941 instructions were issued to camp commandants which stated that the presence of Irish Nationals in Stalag XB and Milag Nord was not to be revealed to the Irish Legation in Berlin prior to their incarceration in the Arbeitslager Bremen-Farge. Following their relocation to Farge in February 1943, the Gestapo had within a short time accepted that the Irishmen were neutrals and were attempting to sort out the exact status of each of the 32 with the Irish legation in Berlin via the German foreign office and Gestapo HQ in Bremen. Interestingly a problem had also arisen because some of the 32 Irishmen had previously asserted themselves to be British, consequently the authorities in Berlin required the status of each to be ascertained by the Irish legation before any repatriation. As a result of the RAF bombing of Berlin in late 1943 the majority of the legation files were destroyed, consequently the Irish chargé d'affaire had no other option but to redo their passport applications which created more delays. By August 1944 despite all the difficulties Con Cremin had successfully acquired the cooperation of the Nazis to extract the Irishmen from Farge camp. However due to further RAF bombing of the Bremen area the Irish legation determined that it would be safer for the Irishmen to return to Farge camp rather than routing them back to Ireland through other zones of occupation where belligerents were actively engaged in operations against each other. The historical narrative surrounding the experience of Irishmen interned in Nazi Germany during world war two deserves a more considered analysis from commentators and seeking meaningless apologies is an imprudent response to a complex historical issue.
Protest - 01 October 2013 - Ballymun Library: Following Notification of a Protest to highlight the inaccuracies in his book, the author, David Blake Knox, aware that he would have been factually challenged to defend his assertions, apparently decided to cancel his lecture, which was scheduled to be held as part of Dublin City Council's Festival of History in Ballymun-Library.