Seven Stars Republican Socialist News

Henry McDonald and Seán Russell

In the Observer (16 January 2005), Henry McDonald accused Liam O Ruairc of
'Nazi like denial' of the alleged collaboration between Sean Russell and the
Nazis. (see article)

However, it is Henry McDonald who gets his facts wrong:

"The facts about Russell's tenure as IRA O/C as well as his death are
crystal clear. As British cities were relentlessly bombed during the
Luftwaffe Blitz Russell dispatched bombers of his own to England.
Explosions killed civilians in cities such as Coventry..."

Unfortunately, Henry McDonald is factually wrong. The IRA's 1939-1940
campaign and the Blitz did not take place at the same time. It was on Monday
16 January 1939 that the IRA bombing campaign in England began -nine months
before the Second World War began. It had peaked by the time the Prevention
of Violence (Temporary Provisions) Bill was introduced by Westminster on 24
July 1939. The Coventry explosion mentioned by Henry took place on 25 August
1939. And by the time Barnes and McCormack were hanged on 7 February 1940,
the campaign was well on its way out. The Battle of Britain began in the
summer of 1940, and the Blitz officially started on 7 September 1940. That
was a year after the Coventry explosion. It is thus factually incorrect to
imply that the IRA and Luftwaffe campaigns took place at the same time.

"Moreover, Russell was feted in Berlin and travelled there voluntarily. In
order to aid the IRA campaign to disrupt the British war effort Russell was
transported back from Berlin in 1944 on a U-boat."

Again, Henry gets the facts wrong. It was on August 1940 that Russell and
Ryan were sent back to Ireland by U Boat. By 1944, Russell had been dead
four years.

Henry writes: "Usually intelligent republican writers and critics such as Liam
O'Ruaric in Belfast have also gone down the Nazi-like denial line pointing
to Ryan's
presence on the submarine and the fact that so many IRA veterans like him
fought on the Republican side in Spain."

My argument about Russell is not based on Ryan's presence but on a series of
well-established evidence

"Sean Russell was essentially a physical-force republican and from what we
know he had little interest in ideologies and politics.

The Nazi attempts to indoctrinate Russell with their philosophy and politics
failed spectacularly. Sean Russell told one German official: "I am not a
Nazi. I'm not even pro-German. I am an Irishman fighting for the
independence of Ireland. The British have been our enemies for hundreds of
years. They are the enemy of Germany today. "If it suits Germany to give us
help to achieve independence, I am willing to accept it, but no more, and
there must be no strings attached." (The Irish Times, 6 June 1958).

The Public Records Office has released files, which show that, after
intensive post-war interrogation of German intelligence agents at the
highest level, British intelligence itself concluded in 1946 "Russell
throughout his stay in Germany had shown considerable reticence towards the
Germans and plainly did not regard himself as a German agent".

In his 1958 novel, Victors and Vanquished, Francis Stuart observed of the
Russell-based character: "Pro-German when it comes to the English and
Pro-Jew when it's a question of the Germans".

One might dismiss this as a literary invention were it not that this
assessment was corroborated by a more significant witness - Erwin Lahousen,
the first and most important witness for the prosecution at the Nuremberg
War Crimes Trials in 1945. Lahousen had been head of the second bureau of
the German Intelligence

Service from 1939 to 1943. Lahousen wrote that Russell was "a real
republican of the old school", who may be willing "to use the Germans for
his own political ends", but who "regarded the Nazi philosophy as anathema".

In conclusion, Mr McDonald's argument is very shaky and needs to provide a
great deal more evidence to back up his claims of Liam's "Nazi like denial".

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