740.0011 European War 1939/11035: Telegram

The Minister in Ireland ( Gray ) to the Secretary of State

46. I received last night a transcript of the message which the Prime Minister sent to Brennan to deliver to you as an answer to my instructed [Page 234] conversation with him on April 28 as reported in my telegram No. 42, May 1, 7 p.m. After a few introductory sentences I today made acknowledgment to Mr. de Valera in the following manner:

I have received a copy of the memorandum22 which you have instructed your Minister in Washington to read to the Secretary of State in reply to our conversation of April 28 last. Thank you for your courtesy in sending me this. It is of course beyond my province to comment upon your reply or to forecast the impression that it may make upon my Government but it makes clear to me the tragedy of the divergence of our national viewpoints and of our mutual misunderstanding of each other’s position. Unless I misinterpret American public opinion the great American majority fail to appreciate the political difficulties that would confront you were you to take a more anti-Axis position and also the sacrifices of civilian life and property which German reprisals would probably impose.

On the other hand Irish public opinion seems not to realize that the American people are engaged in a conflict for survival as a free nation, a conflict which they are as reluctant to enter as are the Irish people. In the view of American public opinion Irish survival depends upon the outcome of this conflict equally with American survival and the circumstance that Ireland would benefit by American sacrifices yet withhold not merely help but sympathy engenders a regrettable bitterness and a tendency in the American newspapers to question rights under international law claimed by those who disclaim responsibility for contributing to the maintenance of international law. We have discussed these points repeatedly and with great frankness. I touch upon them again because, unless some formula of reconciliation of the two views be found, I fear our traditional relation is imperiled. Personally I refuse to believe that any situation is hopeless to men of good will.

I am informed most confidentially that an Irish opposition leader has delivered a memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding Aiken’s recall and warning him that the opposition will not support a policy that antagonizes America.

  1. Supra.