Ireland's vicarious relationship to Holocaust

Last night, I came across this from Paul Arthur’s erudite examination of the multiple relationships within these islands. It may have some bearing on the various domestic controversies that have kicked around in Ireland on Holocaust Memorial Day:

“Her neutral stance during World War II may have damaged her international interests; at the very least it damaged her pyschologically. When Harold Laski argued in 1951 that ‘the real alternative to the House of Commons is the concentration camp’ it is conceivable that his meaning would have been lost on those Irish political leaders who had endured only vicariously the ravages of war. By remaining outside the hostilities ‘Dark Rosaleen’ placed herself in a lower division of the international order”.

  • Davros

    Louis MacNeice wrote a savage attack on the Irish stance.


    The neutral island facing the Atlantic,
    The neutral island in the heart of man,
    Are bitterly soft reminders of the beginnings
    That ended before the end began.
    Look into your heart, you will find a county Sligo,
    A Knocknarea with for navel a cairn of stones,
    You find the shadow and sheen of a moleskin mountain
    And a litter of chronicles and bones.
    Look into your heart, you will find fermenting rivers,
    Intricacies of gloom and glint,
    You will find such ducats of dream and great doubloons of ceremony
    As nobody to-day would mint.
    But then look eastward from your heart, there bulks
    A continent, close, dark, as archetypal sin,
    While to the west off your own shores the mackerel
    Are fat – on the flesh of your kin.

    He was referring at the end to the heavy losses suffered by those in the merchant marine of Irish descent. However we now know that de Valera was neutral in name only – for which he deserves praise not criticism. It was after all only 20 years after the War of Independence.