Best friend and ally?

West Germany played a pivotal role in encouraging the Republic of Ireland's adaptation to a 'European' path. This book contends that Ireland recognised that the post- war German economic miracle offered trade openings. It analyses approximately 25 years of Irish-West German affairs, allowing a measured examination of the fluctuating relationship, and terminates in 1973, when Ireland joined the European Communities (EC). The general historical literature on Ireland's post- war foreign relations is developing but it tends to be heavily European Economic Community (EEC), United Nations (UN) or Northern Ireland centred. The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) is a worthy candidate for such a study as it was Ireland's key trading partner in continental Western Europe. Germany acted as a dynamic force in Ireland's modernisation from the mid- 1950s. Ireland wanted 'to ride the wave of the future', and the challenge was to adapt. This study of Irish- West German relations offers up a prism through which to reinterpret the shifts in Ireland's international reorientation and adaptation between 1949 and 1973. Like any relationship, even a relatively amicable one, the Irish- West German one was prone to strains. Bitter trade disputes beset Irish- German relations throughout the 1950s. The book sheds new light on post- war Ireland's shift from an Anglo- Irish focus to a wider European one. It also discusses land wars, Nazism, the Anglo- Irish Trade Agreement of 1938, the establishment of a 'new Europe' and Lemass's refurbishment of the Irish development model.

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Mervyn O’Driscoll

(behind Britain). This book contends that Ireland recognised that the post-​war German economic miracle (Wirtschaftswunder) offered trade openings. Germany acted as a dynamic force in Ireland’s modernisation from the mid-​1950s. Ireland wanted ‘to ride the wave of the future’,1 and the challenge was to adapt. This study of Irish–​West German relations offers up a prism through which to reinterpret the shifts in Ireland’s international reorientation and adaptation between 1949 and 1973. 2 2 Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe The FRG was established in 1949 and

in Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe, 1949– 73
Mervyn O’Driscoll

12 1 Ireland and Germany before 1949 To gain a better appreciation of Irish–​West German relations after the establishment of the FRG in 1949, this chapter discusses aspects of their pre-​1949 relationship. Anglo-​Irish relations and Irish neutrality, in particular, had a major impact. Neutrality heavily coloured matters, as Ireland was the only member of the British Commonwealth to declare and maintain neutrality during Second World War. Allied propaganda frequently depicted Ireland as pro-​German. This, in addition to the German Reich’s involvement in the

in Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe, 1949– 73
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Ireland, German reunification and remaking Europe
Mervyn O’Driscoll

way to alleviating the overheating German economy and the excess of industrial investment capital there. By the mid-​1960s West Germany was the second largest industrial investor in Ireland, ahead of the United States, but after Britain.4 228 228 Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe This modification in Irish economic fortunes and direction was accompanied by adjustments in Irish foreign policy. In the early 1960s, the AA was commenting approvingly on the mounting signals that Irish foreign policy was undergoing a process of moderation and mainstreaming

in Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe, 1949– 73
Mervyn O’Driscoll

British market was Ireland’s lifeblood, but the Irish became apprehensive that it would be eroded by EFTA. Denmark presented a specific challenge. Complacent dependence on the umbilical special trade link with the UK ended. 130 130 Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe As a major agricultural exporter and trade rival, Denmark possessed long-​ established exceptional access to the German market much to Ireland’s chagrin. Acutely worrying from an Irish perspective, Denmark employed its forthcoming membership of EFTA to negotiate a deal with the UK in 1959. This

in Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe, 1949– 73
Mervyn O’Driscoll

longer 68 68 Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe sufficient to sustain the nation. An interlude occurred before the Irish political elites realised the import of the changes underway. Irish shortcomings contrasted to the economic resurgence of Western Europe in the 1950s. Initially, as a defeated and occupied state, West Germany had no option but to consent to the American international vision. It became an influential disciple of, and vector for, US free trade ideology and an integrated United States of Europe. Variously proud and defensive in terms of

in Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe, 1949– 73
Mervyn O’Driscoll

potential as an investor in modernisation. 98 98 Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe German companies played an enduring part in Ireland’s adjustments from industrial protectionism and agricultural-​centrism (an obsession with beef and cattle exports). The Wirtschaftswunder was a stimulus for Irish adaptation in the same way that it propelled Western Europe. A core element of this chapter, therefore, is its clarification of the geneses of Irish modernisation. These are frequently attributed to Seán Lemass in his final term as minister for industry and commerce

in Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe, 1949– 73
Mervyn O’Driscoll

a protracted polemic playing out in the Irish media, the 198 198 Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe Oireachtas, the international media and ultimately the Bundestag. Accusations of a dispossession flourished in local and national newspapers. Countless Dáil questions about land sales to ‘foreigners’, especially ‘Germans’, were posed by backbench and Opposition TDs (Teachta Dála; member of the Irish Parliament or Dáil) during the 1960s and early 1970s. The uneasiness played on the sense of attachment to the land that many Irish people felt. It resonated

in Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe, 1949– 73
Abstract only
Mervyn O’Driscoll

and occupation of Germany combined with the general post-​war chaos prevented a resumption of normal trade. The prospects for a reopening of normal trade only occurred in early 1949 when the Joint Export–​Import Agency of the Occupation Authorities (British and American) began to relax export–​import controls.1 The 32 32 Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe regularisation of relations had to wait until the passing of the Basic Law in 1949 and the establishment of the FRG. By June 1949, negotiations were underway for an Irish–​German agreement to revive trade

in Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe, 1949– 73
Mervyn O’Driscoll

’s leadership. It might be supposed that West Germany would be well placed to judge Ireland. West Germany was Ireland’s second-​or third-​largest trade partner from the mid-​1950s (depending on annual trade statistics) as it jostled with the United States behind Britain. In the early 1960s, German firms were also among the top two or three investing in Ireland.2 Bonn favoured and fostered Ireland’s transformation; it wanted to normalise Ireland as a member of the West European family of nations. This did not signify that German perspectives and attitudes to the Irish

in Ireland, West Germany and the New Europe, 1949– 73